Australian Cadel Evans wins Tour de France

The Tour de France has a new winner after Australian Cadel Evans conquered the most prestigious cycling race in the world.

Many questioned if Evans, twice the Tour runner-up and aged 34, was capable of winning a three-week Grand Tour, but the 2009 world champion proved the doubters wrong.

Evans fought off the challenge of Andy Schleck, who had to settle for a third successive year on the second step of the podium, Frank Schleck, Thomas Voeckler and Alberto Contador, the defending champion.

Prior to the 2011 Tour, Contador had won six straight Grand Tours entered - the Tour in 2007, 2009 and 2010, the Giro d'Italia in 2008 and 2011 and the Vuelta a Espana in 2008.

Evans' triumph avoided heaping yet more controversy on cycling, for had pre-race favourite Contador won, the result would have been decided by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Spaniard's 2010 success - and subsequent results - are in jeopardy as he will be from August 1 subject of a CAS hearing into his positive test for clenbuterol at last year's Tour. He protests his innocence, attributing the result to contaminated meat.

For Contador, the Tour has been a tortuous experience, from the moment when he was booed like a pantomime villain at the team presentation in the Coliseum at the Puy de Fou theme park.

Perhaps in sympathy following his fall and lost time on the opening stage and the following day's team time-trial, Contador received an easy ride thereafter - until he had to swat away a spectator in surgical scrubs as he led the field up Alpe d'Huez last Friday.

That was Contador's last stand in the 2011 Tour - fatigue from the Giro and a knee injury contributing to his troublesome three weeks as he finished fifth and without a day in the yellow jersey.

Prior to the Tour getting under way, the three weeks were again expected to be about the leading riders in each of the last two years - Contador and Andy Schleck.

The latter, from Luxembourg, propelled himself into contention with a sensational solo display to win at Galibier Serre-Chevalier, the highest summit finish in Tour history.

He then seized the maillot jaune after ending Voeckler's courageous and tenacious 10-day stint in yellow at Alpe d'Huez, leaving France still without a winner of their home race since 1985 and without a rider on the podium since 1997.

Evans then ruthlessly exposed the Schleck brothers' deficiencies against the clock in the 42.5km time-trial in Grenoble, propelling himself into the yellow jersey with one day to go, leaving the Luxembourg duo to settle for being the first siblings on the Tour podium.

There were three weeks of epic racing, but the Tour was not without controversy - with the question of doping still hanging over the sport.

Belgian team QuickStep had their bus seized by police on the eve of the Grand Depart in the Vendee. They later reported it was a routine check and nothing untoward was found.

By the finish in Paris, there was one positive test - Alexandre Kolobnev of the Katusha team excluded from the Tour.

Whether more adverse doping results are reported remains to be seen in the coming days and weeks - it was the end of September before Contador's positive test was made public in 2010.

Thirty others also failed to make it to the Champs-Elysees in a Tour noted for crashes.

The first week which saw a swathe of riders crash out.

Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) suffered a broken collarbone on a rather innocuous section of road on stage seven, ending his hopes of being the first Briton on the Tour podium for another year.

Alexandre Vinokourov, the controversial Kazakh, flew off the side of the road into some trees, fracturing his thigh bone and later announcing his retirement. The very same crash accounted for three others.

There were also preventable collisions.

On stage five a photographer's motorbike dragged down Danish champion Nicki Sorensen, while on stage nine, a French television car wiped out Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky), who knocked over fellow escapee Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) - an incident which appears worse every time it is replayed.

Thankfully the duo were not seriously hurt and both recovered to reach Paris.

Norway and Great Britain enjoyed a successful Tour, with Thor Hushovd becoming the first world champion to win a Tour stage since 2002, while Mark Cavendish dominated the sprints for a fourth straight year and took the green jersey.

But the three weeks belonged to Evans, who was the most consistent rider and deservedly triumphed, four years after first reaching the Tour podium.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there