Cycling: Good vibrations on the road to Paris

The Yellow Jersey's time-trialling, brilliant Britons and a town's choice of gift lit up this year's Tour.


Best overall performance


This one has to be jointly shared by Alberto Contador and Bradley Wiggins.


That Contador proved his superiority with powerful mountain top attacks we could expect. But his vast improvement in time trialling, as proved by a knock-out victory in stage 18's race against the clock in Annecy, sealed his overall win.

Racing in the same team as Lance Armstrong, also vying for the Tour overall, could have sunk a weaker rider than Contador. As it was, even Armstrong had to admit defeat.

Bradley Wiggins has not only pulled off the best ever English performance in the Tour with fourth, he's done so thanks to a radical improvement in his road racing over the last nine months. Next year, will we see a first Brit on the podium?

Most exciting sprint

On stage 19 to Aubenas, Mark Cavendish took his fifth victory after getting over the day's final climb against all expectations. With just half his usual team support, the Manx Express came through on an uphill sprint. Brilliant.

Most crucial stage overall

Stage seven to Andorra, where Contador blasted away on the finale and moved back ahead of Armstrong overall. The Texan was not happy at his team-mate's show of strength, but Contador proved that day he could win the Tour and handle the pressure-cooker atmosphere inside Astana, too.

Strongest team

Columbia-HTC gave Cavendish faultless support on his quest for multiple stage wins and to finish in Paris. He even gave Alberto Contador a major headache when they broke away en masse on stage three with Lance Armstrong in tow.

Strongest sprinter

No competition here. Having won four Tour stages last year, whenever there was a flat finish, Manxman Mark Cavendish smoked the opposition one time after another with devastating ease. He's now the British record holder for stages in the Tour, at just 24. Expect much, much more in the future.

Biggest media draw

Lance Armstrong sucked in a lot of headlines and he rewarded the media's near-universal adulation with third place overall and an entertaining, well-publicised, internal power conflict with Contador. Back next year, too, but not in the same team as the Spaniard.

"They're not compatible," team manager Johan Bruyneel pointed out after three weeks racing.

As if the rest of the world hadn't noticed, nine months ago, when Armstrong said he was coming back.

Sulkiest rider

Tour 2008 winner Carlos Sastre, barely visible during the entire race and who finished a miserable 17th. Only made the headlines when he slated the Spanish media for ignoring him and the the Tour organisers for not giving him enough credit. Apologised a few days later.

Best climbing performance

Jointly shared by Contador and Wiggins again. Contador for his -blazing attack at Verbier, which put Armstrong up against the ropes, and earned him the yellow jersey.

Wiggins on the Ventoux saw the Briton dig deep to resist no less than seven attacks by Contador's most aggressive challenger, Andy Schleck. He cracked a little, but still hung on for fourth overall.

Most unusual press freebie

The town of Bourg-Saint-Maurice in the Alps won that hands down (in more senses than one) with a flower-shaped vibrator, complete (and why not?) with detachable green petals. So unusual, it caused some confusion – one hapless Spanish (male) journalist thought he had been given a small plastic airfan.

Most surreal French roadsign

Seen somewhere in the Ardeche region: Zone Turistique des Crocodiles. This phase is open to various translations – is this an area for tourists to look at crocodiles, for crocodiles on holiday, or maybe for crocodiles to hang out with passing tourists, get in the zone, and chill? If you were tempted to bring the kiddies, bear in mind le zone is just a stone's throw away from a huge nuclear power station.

Most exotic press room

Twenty-one days of non-stop travelling means 21 press rooms and the strangest was located in the grounds of a castle, next to five huge, rusting steam locomotives stranded on 30 metre chunks of rail.

The biggest, adorned with red Communist star, had a bizarre history – made in Poland, requisitioned by the Russians during the Cold War [where it travelled to Siberia in sub-40 degree temperatures, a noticeboard solemnly told us] and then finally dumped on the East German frontier for us capitalist lackeys in the West to deal with. Next stop, somehow, central France, for errant Tour journalists to look at.

News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
art
News
newsIn short, yes
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
i100
Life and Style
Cara Delevigne at the TopShop Unique show during London Fashion Week
fashion
News
The life-sized tribute to Amy Winehouse was designed by Scott Eaton and was erected at the Stables Market in Camden
peopleBut quite what the singer would have made of her new statue...
Sport
England's Andy Sullivan poses with his trophy and an astronaut after winning a trip to space
sport
News
peopleThe actress has agreed to host the Met Gala Ball - but not until 2015
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and i...

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and...

Primary Teaching Supply

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories