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Wiggins takes Tour de France title
4:28pm Sunday 22nd July 2012 in General Sport
BRADLEY Wiggins has become the first British Tour de France champion – and celebrated his success by leading Mark Cavendish to victory in Paris.
Wiggins completed his 13th day in the yellow jersey and the 99th Tour in first place, three minutes 21 seconds ahead of Team Sky colleague Chris Froome, who became the second Briton, after his team-mate, on the podium in the history of the race.
Not content with his personal success, Wiggins played an integral role as world champion Cavendish won the 120-kilometre 20th stage from Rambouillet, sealing victory on the Champs-Elysees for a fourth consecutive year.
It was the seventh British stage success of the 2012 Tour, with Cavendish finishing with three wins, Wiggins with two, Froome with one and David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) one.
All four Britons, together with Ian Stannard, are due to combine on Saturday in a bid to help Cavendish win Olympic gold in the 250km road race on the opening day of London 2012.
Cavendish has won on the French capital's most famous boulevard in each of the Tours he has completed – in 2009, 2010, 2011 and now in 2012.
The 27-year-old from the Isle of Man, who also won stages two and 18, now has 23 Tour stage wins, moving above Lance Armstrong and Andre Darrigade into fourth place in the all-time list.
It was a remarkable effort for the Manxman, who spent much of the Tour in the service of Wiggins.
Wiggins repaid the favour, taking to the front with 1.1km remaining, with Edvald Boasson Hagen assuming the lead 600 metres out.
Cavendish came to the front in the rainbow jersey 400 metres from the line and powered to a supreme victory.
Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) was second, with Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) third.
Wiggins’ imperious victory in the penultimate day's time-trial meant that, barring a freak accident, he would create history.
Team Sky's livery had morphed overnight to become yellow, with Wiggins' bike also yellow as Britons lined the route.
The stage was set to be a procession to the Champs-Elysees, where the sprinters would contest the finish.
As is tradition, the stage was ridden at pedestrian pace until the peloton entered Paris.
Wiggins posed for pictures with the leaders of the classifications - points leader Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), King of the Mountains leader Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and best young rider Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), wearing green, polka dot and white jerseys, respectively.
Wiggins also rode alongside 2011 Tour champion Cadel Evans, a man the Londoner took inspiration from while watching at home after crashing out of the first week with a fractured collarbone.
Wiggins' Team Sky colleagues shared in the limelight, with the Londoner indebted to his seven colleagues for their support since the June 30 start in Liege.
George Hincapie, riding in his 17th consecutive and final Tour before retirement, led the peloton on to the Champs-Elysees for the first of eight laps.
Alongside Hincapie (BMC Racing), who supported Lance Armstrong in each of his seven victories from 1999 to 2005, was Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek).
Team Sky's full eight-man squad were behind, with Cavendish sandwiched between Wiggins and Froome as the day's racing began.
Eleven riders joined together in an attempt to foil a sprint finish.
With two laps to go three - Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek), Rui Costa (Movistar) and Sebastien Minard (Ag2r La Mondiale) - went clear as their breakaway colleagues were caught.
The trio were caught with 2.6km remaining, with Michael Rogers the first of four Team Sky riders leading the peloton.
A frantic finale ensued, but Team Sky took over in the final kilometre and Cavendish finished off a stunning three weeks for Britain with a sensational win, as Wiggins claimed an historic success.
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