Tour de France: Mark Cavendish wins historic green jersey

Mark Cavendish won the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris, becoming Britain's first winner of the green jersey for the race's best sprinter.

Manxman Cavendish, who has now won 20 stages of the race in his career, crossed the line first after a frenetic sprint finish on the Champs-Elysees.

"I've been trying to get the green jersey for the last few years, it is a special day," said the 26-year-old.

Cadel Evans took the yellow jersey to become Australia's first Tour winner.

The polka-dot jersey for the Tour's best climber went to Spain's Samuel Sanchez, while Frenchman Pierre Rolland was confirmed as the best young rider with the white jersey.

Welshman Geraint Thomas, who spent the first six days in white, finished 31st overall ensured him the honour of the top British rider in the general classification in his third Tour de France.

Cavendish had amassed 15 stage wins over his previous three Tours, but his failure to take green before this year had been been one factor in the organisers' decision  to increase the rewards on offer at the end of each stages.

Tour facts: Mark Cavendish

  • 2007 - Makes his Tour debut and after crashing in the first two stages retires during stage eight
  • 2008 - Becomes the first British rider to win four stages in a single Tour but abandons after stage 14 to concentrate on the Olympics
  • 2009 - After failing to win a medal in Beijing wins six stages of the Tour
  • 2010 - Wins five more stages and finishes second in the points classification
  • 2011 - Becomes first British winner of the green jersey and moves onto 20 stage wins with five more victories

The Isle of Man cyclist finished with 334 points, while Spaniard Jose Joaquin Rojas was second with 272 and Belgian Philippe Gilbert had 236.

However, despite the relatively comfortable final margin of victory Cavendish was not assured of securing the green jersey until he won the final sprint.

If Rojas had won the stage then Cavendish would have needed to finish second or third to claim the jersey he so highly coveted.

"I've been incredibly lucky to have a group of team-mates who have been committed to me winning races and it has paid off," said the HTC Highroad cyclist.

"I can't stress how lucky I am, I couldn't do it alone. I'm super emotional, super happy."

Evans had assumed the lead in the overall standings from Leopard-Trek's Andy Schleck in Saturday's time trial and a flat 95km stage into Paris did not offer any opportunities to attack his advantage of one minute 34 seconds.

Cavendish had a less comfortable cushion in the green-jersey standings with 15 points separating him from Rojas at the start of the final day.

Any hopes Rojas harboured of making early inroads on his rival were ruined however, as Slovenian Kristjan Koren led an unexpected six-man breakaway through the intermediate sprint to earn 20 points.

Cavendish was the first of the peloton over the line while team-mate Matt Goss held off Rojas to extend the Manxman's lead to 17 points.

With Team Sky's British rider Ben Swift playing a full role, the escapees pushed their lead up towards 45 seconds.

But the leading group disintegrated as Lars Bak, an HTC team-mate of Cavendish, pushed the pace, having previously been content to trail along on the back of the group.

Analysis

Twenty Tour de France stage wins, five this year, three in a row in Paris and now, finally, one box-fresh green jersey: it's official, Mark Cavendish is the fastest sprinter on two wheels. He is also a massive star. In France. True fame has yet to come in the UK (with the honorable exception of his birthplace, the Isle of Man), but if he keeps pulling stunts like this one it will come eventually. With 30km to go on the Champs- Elysees, Cav was by the side of the road, changing his bike. As cool as a cucumber. Half an hour later, he was rolling through the line, arms outstretched, grinning from ear to ear. British rider David Millar has just told me Cavendish is Britain's greatest current sportsman. Hard to disagree on a day like this

The peloton mopped up the breakaway with two kilometres to go, just as the HTC Highroad team fell into formation behind.

A well-drilled procession followed with Cavendish breaking off the wheel of Australian lead-out Mark Renshaw with 170m to the finish.

Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen came closest to overhauling Cavendish, but could not close to within less than a bike length.

Andre Griepel, Tyler Farrar and Fabian Cancellara completed the top five, with Rojas a distant 21st.

Cavendish's stage win followed successes on the Champs-Elysees in 2009  and 2010  , making him first man to have won three final stages in succession since the legendary Belgian Eddy Merckx in 1972.

Evans, 34, finished 56th, well within the 150-strong group who clocked the same time behind Cavendish, to confirm himself as the oldest overall winner since the Second World War.

He is the first winner to wear the yellow jersey for only the last stage of the race since Greg LeMond's success in 1990.

STAGE 21 STANDINGS:

1 Mark Cavendish (GB/HTC-Highroad) 2hrs 27mins 02secs,

2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor/Sky Procycling) at same time

3 Andre Greipel (Ger/Omega Pharma-Lotto)

4 Tyler Farrar (U.S./Team Garmin-Cervelo)

5 Fabian Cancellara (Swi/Leopard Trek)

6 Daniel Oss (Ita/Liquigas-Cannondale)

7 Borut Bozic (Slo/Vacansoleil-DCM)

8 Tomas Vaitkus (Lit Pro Team Astana)

9 Gerald Ciolek (Ger/Quickstep Cycling Team)

10 Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra/Saur - Sojasun)

OVERALL STANDINGS:

1 Cadel Evans (Aus/BMC) 86hrs 12mins 22secs

2 Andy Schleck (Lux/Leopard Trek) at 1min 34secs

3 Frank Schleck (Lux/Leopard Trek) at 2.30

4 Thomas Voeckler (Fra/Team Europcar) at 3.20

5 Alberto Contador (Spa/Saxo Bank Sungard) at 3.57

6 Samuel Sanchez (Spa/Euskaltel-Euskadi) at 4.55

7 Damiano Cunego (Ita/Lampre) at 6.05

8 Ivan Basso (Ita/Liquigas) at 7.23

9 Thomas Danielson (U.S./Garmin-Cervelo) at 8.15

10 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra/AG2R) at 10.11

Selected others:

31 Geraint Thomas (GB/Sky) at 1:00:48

76 David Millar (GB/Garmin-Cervelo) at 2:14.56

130 Mark Cavendish (GB/HTC-Highroad) at 3:15.05

137 Ben Swift (GB/Sky) at 3:18.07

OVERALL SPRINT STANDINGS:

1 Mark Cavendish (GB/HTC-Highroad) 334 points

2 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa/Movistar) 272

3 Philippe Gilbert (Bel/Omega Pharma-Lotto) 236

4 Cadel Evans (Aus/BMC) 208

5 Thor Hushovd (Nor/Garmin-Cervelo) 195

6 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor/Sky) 192

7 Andre Greipel (Ger/Omega Pharma-Lotto) 160

8 Tyler Farrar (U.S./Garmin-Cervelo) 127

9 Samuel Sanchez (Spa/Euskaltel-Euskadi) 105

10 Alberto Contador (Spa/Saxo Bank) 105

OVERALL BEST YOUNG RIDER STANDINGS:

1 Pierre Rolland (Fra/Europcar) 86hrs 23mins 05secs

2 Rein Taaramae (Est/Cofidis) at 0:46

3 Jerome Coppel (Fra/Saur - Sojasun) at 7:53

4 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra/FDJ) at 10:37

5 Rob Ruijgh (Ned/Vacansoleil) at 22:21

6 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col/Sky) at 32:05

7 Geraint Thomas (GB/Sky) at 50:05

8 Robert Gesink (Ned/Rabobank) at 54:26

9 Cyril Gautier (Fra /Europcar) at 1:17:00

10 Andrey Zeits (Kaz/Astana) at 1:21:05

OVERALL MOUNTAINS CLASSIFICATIONS:

1 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa/Euskaltel) 108 points

2 Andy Schleck (Lux/Leopard Trek) 98

3 Jelle Vanendert (Bel/Omega Pharma-Lotto) 74

4 Cadel Evans (Aus/BMC) 58

5 Frank Schleck (Lux/Leopard Trek) 56

6 Alberto Contador (Spa/Saxo Bank) 51

7 Jeremy Roy (Fra/FDJ) 45

8 Pierre Rolland (Fra/Europcar) 44

9 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz/Astana) 40

10 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned/Vacansoleil-DCM) 40