Ups and downs: The best (and worst) of this year's Tour de France


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The Independent Online

Best team helper: Mark Cavendish

The sight of the world champion's jersey stuffed with bottles and hammering out a top pace on the lower slopes of the mountain climbs was the biggest indication of Sky's team unity – and of Cavendish's willingness to sacrifice his chances for Wiggins' yellow.

Best stage win

In Annonay, David Millar beat John-Christophe Péraud after riding faultlessly in the day's breakaway. His press conference afterwards, remembering Tom Simpson and underlining cycling's battle against doping was almost equally memorable.

Most surprising overall ride

Tejay Van Garderen's fifth place overall and Best Young Rider's jersey saw the young American outshine his erstwhile leader Cadel Evans.

Most disappointing performance

Russian Denis Menchov has won three Grand Tours and finished on the Tour de France podium in 2010. He was all but invisible here.

Wackiest journos' freebie

In 2010 it was the flower-shaped vibrator from a ski station in the Alps, last year it was a sack of sand taken from the world's highest viaduct in Millau; this year's top surreal gift for Tour reporters was the cardboard tube of toothpaste from Metz, with descriptions of the city's achievements written down the sides.

Best team

Won hands-down by Team Sky. Six stage wins, first and second overall, leading the race for two weeks and faultless execution of their plan to reach the Tour.

Stupidest fans

This classification was being led by the idiots who fired flares at the Tour the day Millar won, until some even crazier individuals scattered tacks on the road.

Best nation

Without banging the patriotic drum too loudly, after 109 years without a single rider in the Tour's top three, Great Britain taking the top two spots cannot be outmatched.

Best sprint

Cavendish charging away with 600 metres to go, twice the usual distance, was one of his best wins ever, let alone in the Tour.

Loudest frogs

Of the amphibious variety, we hasten to add. Won hands down by the huge chorus of bullfrogs who croaked, bellowed and ribbeted at deafeningly loud levels all night long in their pond right outside my hotel – somewhere in the Vosges after stage seven. Were they celebrating Wiggo's first yellow jersey? We shall never know.