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Page last updated at 11:13 GMT, Monday, 27 July 2009 12:13 UK

Cavendish joins British Tour legends

Mark Cavendish crosses the finish line on the Champs-Elysees

British rider Mark Cavendish finished the Tour de France in spectacular style by winning Sunday's final-stage sprint on the Champs-Elysees

It was his sixth stage win of this year's Tour and his 10th overall, while the victory also saw him become the first Briton to win the final stage of the world-famous race.

"All along I said I wanted to go all the way to Paris and my team was so great in helping me do it," he said after crossing the finish line.

"Six victories including the Champs-Elysees. All my dreams come true.

"Every sprinter dreams of putting their hands up in the air as they cross that line, seeing the Arc de Triomphe in the foreground, and it's an amazing feeling to do so."

Having won the first of two world Madison titles on the track in 2005, at the age of 19, the Manx Missile switched to the road the following year and has surged through the ranks just as he does through the peloton.

He was a bright prospect on his Tour de France debut, when the race started in London in 2007, and cemented his reputation last year, when he won a British record four stages before dropping out early to train for the Olympics.

This race has enhanced Cavendish's reputation even further, although he missed out on winning the green jersey for the points competition to Norway's Thor Hushovd

BBC Sport takes a look at the select company of British greats he has joined.

BARRY HOBAN

Hoban, from Wakefield, set the current record of eight Tour de France stage wins by a Briton between 1967 and 1975 - taking eight years to do what Cavendish has managed in two.

Even if Cavendish passes his mark, though, Hoban's mark of 11 completed Tours will remain a British record for a good while yet.

Initially a strong climber, Hoban later established himself a sprinter, moving to Europe to turn professional in 1964.

The first of his stage victories came in 1967, when the rest of the field allowed him to cross the line first, the day after the death of Tom Simpson, whose widow he later married.

TOM SIMPSON

Simpson, from Haswell, County Durham, was one of a group of British pioneers who rode in Europe in the 1960s.

Tom Simpson

In 1962, after stage 12 of the Tour de France, he became first Brit to wear the yellow jersey as race leader and finished sixth overall, losing third spot after a crash.

He became the first British world road race champion in 1965 and went on to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award - the only cyclist to do so until Sir Chris Hoy took the honour in 2008.

Simpson is arguably one of only two British riders - the other being Robert Millar - to have ridden with a chance of overall victory in the Tour, rather than aiming for individual stages or secondary jerseys.

Simpson died of exhaustion on the slopes of Mont Ventoux during the 13th stage of the Tour in 1967, a post-mortem blaming amphetamines and alcohol as well as extreme heat.

Cavendish is set to pass a memorial to Simpson on the slopes of the mountain during Saturday's penultimate stage.

CHRIS BOARDMAN

After winning individual pursuit gold at the 1992 Olympics, Boardman turned professional and took to the road but was unable to live up to hype that billed him as a future Tour winner.

Chris Boardman

His three stage successes all came in the Tour prologue - the short time trial at the beginning of each race - each of which brought a chance to wear the yellow jersey.

He won the 1994 prologue in the fastest time ever recorded, suffered a crash the following year as favourite but returned to win again in 1997 and '98.

Boardman always struggled to recover from his exertions quickly enough to mount a sustained challenge in stage races, which he has blamed on a low hormone profile and others on the doping culture prevalent among his rivals at the time.

He retired after a successful attempt at breaking the hour record on a traditional bike in 2000 and now works as technical director for British Cycling, as well as being involved in media work.

ROBERT MILLAR

Scotsman Millar - who is no relation to current rider David - recorded the highest ever overall finish by a Brit in the Tour when he was fourth in 1984.

A specialist climber with a wiry physique, he also won the King of the Mountains competition that year, the only time a British competitor has won a major Tour jersey.

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport's Martin Gough

Millar won three Tour stages between his debut in 1983 and 1993, and missed out on another in Guzet-Neige in 1988, when he a fellow breakaway rider mistook a policeman's signal in the run-in to the finish and took a wrong turn.

After a spell in team management and journalism, he cut ties with the sport and has not been seen in public for over five years.

Author Richard Moore wrote a book, In Search of Robert Millar, without ever having more than email contact.

SEAN YATES

Yates was known as a top domestique - a rider who supports the big names, as he did with a young Lance Armstrong on the Motorola team from 1992-96.

Sean Yates

He completed nine Tours over 12 years between 1982 and '96, with his best overall placing 45th.

He was particularly good at sitting on the front of a peloton, setting a consistently high speed during the middle of a stage to prevent attacks on his team leader.

Yates had his own occasional day in the sun, though, winning a Tour de France time trial stage in 1988 and wearing the yellow jersey in 1994, on the day after the race went through his native Sussex.

He has since moved into team management, was an assistant on the Discovery Team - at Armstrong's invitation - from 2005 and has recently been working with Astana, although he is missing this year's race because of ill health.



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see also
Cavendish surges to third victory
14 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Tour de France week two photos
17 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Superb Cavendish triumphs again
06 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Cavendish storms to stage victory
05 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Boardman goes out with a bang
28 Oct 00 |  Other Sports
What's so special about Chris Boardman?
13 Dec 05 |  Get Involved
Boardman retains yellow jersey
13 Jul 98 |  Tour de France
Remembering Mr Tom
28 Jul 02 |  Cycling
Tour de France ones to watch
03 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Understanding the Tour de France
03 Jul 09 |  Cycling


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