The 2012 Tour de France came to and end over the weekend, much to the dismay of cycling fans everywhere. We now begin the very long wait until next year’s race, which should be quite the celebration considering it’ll be the 100th Tour.
As expected, Bradley Wiggins rode into Paris in the Yellow Jersey and claimed his first Tour win. His dominance in the individual time trials, and the dominance of Team Sky out on the road made this year’s race a bit less dramatic than prior years, but it was a great win for an excellent cyclists. He was joined on the podium by teammate Chris Froome and Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali, who finished second and third respectively.
All of the other jerseys were wrapped up heading into Paris as well. Peter Sagan dominated the Green Jersey competition as the race’s top sprinter, finishing 141 points ahead of his nearest rival. Thomas Voeckler earned the Polka Dot Jersey of the King of the Mountains which was much deserved following his performance in the Pyrenees, and American Tejay Van Garderen won the White Jersey as the Tour’s best rider under the age of 25. Team Radioshack took home the top honors in the team competition as well.
For me, the best part of this year’s Tour was seeing all of the great young talent start to emerge. Van Garderen finished fifth overall and looks like he could be a real contender down the line. He’s just 23 years of age but looks to be the next great American rider. Froome is 27 and rode very strong throughout the three weeks. His second place finish definitely served notice that he’ll be a force to contend with in the future as well.
But these two GC contenders weren’t the only impressive young riders. Sagan looked fantastic throughout the race and seems to have the skills to become a possible contender as well. He is currently focused on sprinting but could easily develop into an all-around threat should he decide to go that route. This was his first Tour ever and he is just 22 years of age.
The French have a lot to look forward to as well as they appear to have a lot of young talent which could possibly deliver a long awaited win for them too. 25-year old Pierre Roland finished 8th in the GC and picked up a stage win. He looks like a strong rider for the future as does Thibaut Pinot who flashed his speed on more than one occasion. Pinot, who is just 22 years old, finished tenth overall.
These young riders are definitely the faces of the future and I expect at least one or two of them will win the Tour or most certainly be in contention. The future of the race looks like a good one and I think the changing of the guard could come sooner than expected.
Only 342 more days until the Tour de France 2013. Vive Le Tour!
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