Mark Cavendish won on the Champs Elysees for the third successive year to become the first Briton to win the Tour de France green jersey competition.
The HTC-Highroad fast man outsprinted Team Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen and former team-mate Andre Greipel, now riding for Omega Pharma Lotto, to win his fifth stage of the 2011 race and 20th in four years.
Cavendish ends the Tour on 334 points, with Jose Joaquin Rojas second with 272 and Philippe Gilbert third on 236.
Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), who moved into the yellow jersey after finishing second on the penultimate stage’s 42.5km individual time trial, finished safely in the peloton to rubber stamp his overall victory, becoming the first rider from the southern hemisphere to win the Tour.
The 26-year-old Cavendish won four, six and five stages in 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively without topping the final green jersey classification, prompting Tour organisers ASO to adjust how points are awarded for intermediate sprints and stage wins.
And race director Christian Prudhomme was rewarded with a contest that remained alive until the race’s final bunch gallop, with Movistar’s Rojas, 15 points adrift at the start of the day, needing to win the stage and hope Cavendish finished fourth or worse.
But Cavendish has made the Champs Elysees his chief stomping ground and the fastest man in the peloton made no mistake in securing victory on cycling’s most prestigious sprinting track, making him the first rider to have won three final stages in a row since five-time Tour winner Eddy Merckx in 1972.
”I’ve been trying to get the green jersey for the last few years, it is a special day,” said Cavendish, who led the peloton gallop at the intermediate sprint behind a six-man break to extend his lead to seven points.
“They changed the rules this year but I have still had to fight until the last stage to get the green jersey and we’ve had six stage wins for the team this year.
“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. I can’t stress how lucky I am, I couldn’t do it alone. I’m super emotional, super happy.”
Evans held a one minute, 34 second advantage going into the final 95km stage after leapfrogging Leopard-Trek brothers Andy and Frank Schleck in Grenoble and crossed the line in 56th place in a 150-strong group that clocked the same time as Cavendish.
The 34-year-old is the oldest Tour winner in 88 years and ends the United States’ and Spain’s 12-year stranglehold on the race.
“I couldn’t be any happier. A few people always believed in me. I always believed in me. And we did it,” said Evans. “The real highlight was the last three to four kilometres of the time trial yesterday because I knew we were on the right track.”
1. Mark Cavendish (GBR/HTC-Highroad) 2h 27m 02s
2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR/ Team Sky) same time
3. Andre Greipel (GER/Omega Pharma-Lotto)
4. Tyler Farrar (USA/Garmin-Cervelo)
5. Fabian Cancellara (SWI/Leopard-Trek)
6. Daniel Oss (ITA/Liquigas-Cannondale)
7. Borut Bozic (SLO/Vacansoleil-DCM)
8. Tomas Vaitkus (LIT/Astana)
9. Gerald Ciolek (GER/Quick-Step)
10. Jimmy Engoulvent (FRA/Saur-Sojasun)
1. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC Racing) 86h 12m 22s
2. Andy Schleck (LUX/Leopard-Trek) +1’34”
3. Frank Schleck (LUX/Leopard-Trek) +2’30”
4. Thomas Voeckler (FRA/Europcar) +3’20”
5. Alberto Contador (SPA/SaxoBank Sungard) +3’57”
6. Samuel Sanchez (SPA/Euskaltel-Euskadi) +4’55”
7. Damiano Cunego (ITA/Lampre-ISD) +6’05”
8. Ivan Basso (ITA/Liquigas-Cannondale) +7’23”
9. Thomas Danielson (USA/Garmin-Cervelo) +8’15”
10. Jean-Christophe Peraud (FRA/Agr2 La Mondiale) +10’11”
31. Geraint Thomas (GBR/Team Sky) +1:00:48
76. David Millar (GBR/Garmin-Cervelo) +2:14.56
130. Mark Cavendish (GBR/HTC-Highroad) +3:15.05
137. Ben Swift (GBR/Team Sky) +3:18.07
1. Mark Cavendish (GBR/HTC-Highroad) 334 points
2. Jose Joaquin Rojas (SPA/Movistar) 272
3. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/Omega Pharma-Lotto) 236
Best young rider (aged 25 and under)
1. Pierre Rolland (FRA/Europcar) 86h 23m 05
2. Rein Taaramae (EST/Cofidis) +46″
3. Jerome Coppel (FRA/Saur-Sojasun) +7’53”
7. Geraint Thomas (GBR/Team Sky) +50’05”
King of the Mountains classification
1. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (SPA/Euskaltel-Euskadi) 108 points
2. Andy Schleck (LUX/Leopard-Trek) 98
3. Jelle Vanendert (BEL/Omega Pharma-Lotto) 74