Well, I guess that was the 2010 Tour de France.
Quite a quiet race, really - not a lot happened, did it? Pah, are you kidding!?! It was one of the most exciting and eventful Tours of the modern era... and I hope you have enjoyed it as much as me. Thanks for all your contributions on text and 606, and I can't wait for Contador, Schleck, Cav and Team Sky to come back next year for another three weeks of thrills and spills. See you then!
Seven-time winner Lance Armstrong, who finished his final Tour de France today, didn't leave empty-handed, despite ending up 24th in the general classification... His RadioShack outfit won the team category and, for those of you who were following earlier, they had all put their Livestrong jerseys back on for their time on the podium.
1710: Manxman Mark Cavendish on his stunning sprint to victory on the Champs Elysees:
"I didn't have to improvise too much. I always had guys looking after me. We had Tony Martin in the break, and Bernie Eisel kept me on the side of the lead-out train and on the last lap there was a lot of energy, going round at 65kph. All of a sudden I saw Tony (Martin) up ahead which was great because I thought he was out. He took me from 800m to 600m and on to the back of Petacchi's wheel. His sweeper tried to knock me out but I stayed strong. After that it was just a case of when I was going to kick. I could have gone a bit earlier but I am really happy with the way it finished. "
Here's the final standings in the General Classification at the end of the 2010 Tour de France:
1. Alberto Contador Sp/Astana (91hrs 58mins 48secs)
2. Andy Schleck Lux/Saxo Bank) (+ 39sec)
3. Denis Menchov Rus/Rabobank (+ 2min 01sec)
Of course, Mark Cavendish's success is only part of the story of what has been an enthralling Tour. Let's give credit where credit is due to Alberto Contador for his third victory in four years, and to Andy Schleck for making it a battle to remember for the yellow jersey. Contador, 27, won by 39 seconds - the same amount of time Schleck lost in an incident that seems to have become known as 'chain-gate'!
From Matt in Stevenage, via text:
"Only can be matter if time before Cav wins green. He is a legend!! Well done Manx missile!!"
1655: Manxman Mark Cavendish after his fifth stage win of this year's Tour:
"I would have been happy with just one win at the Tour and that was looking further and further away from me after the first week but we kept trying and finally got one. Today was the pinnacle for me, people said I could get green in Paris but that would have relied upon me getting some good luck and Alessandro Petacchi having some bad luck. So today was just about focusing on winning here again and it is the most beautiful finish in the world, to get a win here is pretty spectacular. It's the perfect ending to the Tour."
From Osborne78 on 606:
"Well done Mark Cavendish - had an up and down start to the tour, but has come through superbly in the last couple of weeks."
So the Tour is over for another year, and Mark Cavendish has signed off in style. That was his fifth stage win of this year's Tour and his 15th in total. Only 12 men have won more.
From anon, via text:
"Just the best! Manic Manxman Mark Cavendish did it again winning the final stage of the Tour de France 2010 - Just the best! Hearty Congrats."
1646: 2010 TOUR DE FRANCE JERSEY WINNERS:
Yellow jersey: Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana)
Green jersey: Alessandro Petacchi (It/Lampre)
Polka dot jersey: Anthony Charteau (Ita/Bbox)
White jersey: Andy Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank)
No green jersey for Cav this year though. Alessando Petacchi was the second man over the line, picking up enough points to win that category. New Zealand's Julian Dean finished third.
One word to describe Cavendish: unstoppable! He came from Alessandro Petacchi's wheel and in the last 150 metres he exploded away from all of his rivals, and finished a few feet clear again.
1642: Mark Cavendish wins stage 20 of the 2010 Tour de France! 1641:
But here comes Cav!
The Cervalo team of Thor Hushovd take to the front.
Carlos Barredo tries a surprise attack... which lasts about as long as it took me to write his name. Team Sky are leading the bunch on the way in, can they stay there?
Alessandro Petacchi's Lampre team are on the case too, with the Italian (bedecked in green) no doubt keeping a close eye on Mark Cavendish. Just 2.9km to go.
The HTC Columbia boys are trying to lead this one out, and Cav is up there. So are Team Sky though.
Ok. With 5.8km to go, the last of the escapees are swallowed up. We are definitely going to have a bunch sprint for the finish line.
Right at the start of the final lap, and all the riders are almost back together... that lead evaporated like lightning.
Yep, that lead bunch is in bits and Nicki Sorensen, Kaarsten Kroon and Christian Knees are the three riders left on their own at the front. One lap of this 7km circuit to go and their lead is 15 seconds.
We are approaching the business end of this stage, and the very end of the 2010 Tour de France. With 10km to go, the breakaway bunch is starting to split up but still leads by 16 seconds.
Less than two laps to go. The front 11 (Sandy Casar, Nicki Sorensen, Anthony Roux, Christophe Riblon, Tony Martin, Kaarsten Kroon, Christian Knees, Remi Pauriol and Danilo Hondo, Alan Perez Lezaun and Aitor Perez Arrieta) are 16 seconds clear.
Those front 11 are still working hard but they seem to be getting sucked in now... with 16.9km (two-and-a-bit laps) to go, the lead is down to 16 seconds. Somewhere back in the peloton, Mark Cavendish is licking his lips in anticipation.
Under three laps (21km) to go now. Team Sky, HTC Columbia and Katush are leading the chase, and the gap is 21 seconds.
Some of the other teams are taking an interest in closing this gap... Katusha are the latest to get involved at the front of the peloton, and, slowly but surely, the gap is coming down.
The gap is about 25 seconds now, and this breakaway bunch is going to hoover up all the next intermediate sprint points. That means the green jersey will come down to the final sprint - Mark Cavendish will win it if he comes first and Alessandro Petacchi finishes outside the top six, although Thor Hushovd is in the mix too.
From anon, via text:
"Re 1547. A Spaniard (Fernando Alonso) just won the German Grand Prix too!"
We have got 33km (or five laps of the Champs Elysees) of the 2010 Tour de France left, and Team Sky have taken over at the front of the main bunch. The gap to the leaders is about 15 seconds.
Mark Cavendish's HTC Columbia team are leading the chase at the top of the peloton at the moment, and keeping a close eye on this group of 11 riders.
Well, that gap is growing... but not by much. Anthony Roux is back with the break, who are now 13 seconds clear.
Six laps left now. Anthony Roux has gone off the front of this break of 11 riders, who have a lead of about eight seconds on the peloton.
Another split, and about 10 riders are clear this time - let's see how long this one will last for...
From Nudds, via text:
"Re 1547. Don't forget Rafael Nadal winning at Wimbledon too! No one can stop the Spanish this year!"
None of the contenders for the green jersey contested the first intermediate sprint. People are still trying to escape but nobody is having much success at the moment.
Liquigas rider Aleksandr Kuchynski was out on his own for a little while but has just been swallowed up by the peloton.
The riders are on to their second of eight laps and six men have opened up a bit of daylight on the peloton.
Our friends at
have just given me an interesting snippet. Alberto Contador's impending victory means Spain will win the Tour de France this year, having also won the football World Cup earlier this summer. This 'double' had previously only been performed by Gino Bartali and Italy in 1938.
From anon, via text:
"On Rue de Rivoli at corner of Place de la Concorde with a big British contingent - look out for our Union flag - I'm using your live text to tell everyone what's happening!"
Astana take us through the start-finish line for the first line, with the peloton massed behind them. The pace is beginning to rise now too.
There will be eight laps of this 7km circuit before the finish, with a couple of intermediate sprints thrown in for good measure.
Right, we are definitely in Paris now! Keeping with tradition, the Astana team of Alberto Contador are at the front of the peloton as they go round the finishing circuit for the first time.
Wakey-wakey you lot! There are 62km to go, which means things will be getting interesting pretty soon... the riders have about 10km to go until their first sweep of the Champs Elysees, which is where the proper racing begins today.
No prizes for guessing maillot jaune Alberto Contador's favourite colour at the moment. He is riding a yellow bike today, which even has yellow handlebars. The action is hardly hotting up by the way, but the latest news I can bring you is that the Spaniard has just bitten into a big-old baguette, before sharing it with the passengers of his team car.
The peloton is fast approaching Paris now, but they are well behind schedule because of all that time the RadioShack team spent mucking around changing jerseys at the start of the day.
If you give this page a manual refresh, you will see the link (in the top-right corner) that allows you to listen to our live commentary of the climax to today's stage. It begins at 1515 BST.
There are 170 survivors from the 198 men that began the 2010 Tour in the prologue in Rotterdam on 3 July. Of those riders, the last one standing (or sitting) is Lampre rider Adriano Malori, this year's 'Lanterne Rouge' (or the man bottom of the general classification). Malori is four hours 26 minutes and 26 seconds behind Alberto Contador but the Tour de France is definitely an event where finishing last is no disgrace.
Are any of you already in Paris by the way? Drop me a text if you are hanging off a lamp post on the Champs Elysees or balanced on a railing on the Rue de Rivoli (but don't fall off while you are doing it).
80km to go now, and not long until we hit Paris (which is about 20km away). The pace is still very slow, and Lance Armstrong has just gone back to his team car to get his number pinned on to his jersey properly.
1442: World time trial champion Fabian Cancellara on his Saxo Bank team-mate Andy Schleck's hopes of victory in next year's Tour de France:
"He has not won, but he has gained the confidence that he was close to winning the Tour. He already has so much experience and he will be up there one day. To lose only 30 seconds on Contador in a time trial is like a victory. It should give him extra motivation for next year."
A bloke on a mini-scooter, shouting and carrying a huge Paris St Germain flag, has just zipped past the front of the peloton, raising a few eyebrows and smiles from the riders as he did so. Schleck is back with the bunch now, and snacking on some sweets. I would say that it is all happening, but it isn't. About 85km to go - things won't get interesting until we reach Paris.
Andy Schleck has got a mechanical! I think it's his chain!?! He's changed bikes. No news of whether Contador has attacked this time too!
Contador and Schleck are still off the front, playing about for the cameras. They are enjoying themselves too, although I wonder if, behind the smiles, Schleck is still thinking about 'chaingate', which cost him 39 seconds when Contador took advantage of his mechanical on stage 15?
There's a breakaway! Andy Schleck sprints off and Contador has to follow him off the front... calm down, though. It's not serious - they are just larking about a bit.
The top French rider in the general classification is AG2R rider John Gadret, who is 17th. Our friends at Infostrada tell me that this year will only be the second time in Tour history that the best-placed Frenchman has finished outside the top 15.
There are around 97km of today's stage left, and the champagne has just been cracked open for Alberto Contador. He is dishing out glasses to his Astana team-mates, who will toast his victory. It's more to give the press a chance to take some photos than anything else - they might have a sip or two along the way (some of them just done exactly that!) but they are not going to be swigging it back between now and Paris.
From easyrider67 on 606:
"Remember that this sprint is very hard compared to others. It's a false climb, on cobbles and you NEED to be in third position or better in the last turn to win. There's four people in the peleton who's won it. Cavendish, Thor Hushovd, Alexander Vinokourov and Robbie McEwen. Cav won last year on the lead-out, this time he'll have to fight for a space on his own."
Ok, I've already used 'Tour de Farce' today and I'm probably going to wheel out 'Tour de Lance' and 'Tour de Manx' (which I reckon I invented last year) later on. Are there any other (better!) derivations of 'Tour de France' that you lot can suggest as being suitable for what has been an eventful old race over the last three weeks?
Lance Armstrong and his RadioShack team-mate Yaroslav Popovych are about 30 seconds adrift of the peloton at the moment after all that commotion, but not for much longer because the bunch are not exactly setting a fierce pace!
Lots of publicity for
through what is a bit of a 'Tour de Farce', which is a good thing. Complete chaos at the start though! Armstrong hasn't even got his numbers pinned on properly now.
I've never seen this before. There are some farcical scenes on the roadside with the Radioshack riders sat down and trying to pin their numbers on their replacement jerseys. Up the road, the peloton are slowing down to wait for them.
They won't be looking for laughs when they reach Paris, mind. Especially not the sprinters. Alessandro Petacchi is the current man in green and, ignoring the intermediate sprints, he can keep it even if Cavendish wins the final sprint by finishing inside the top six himself. Just to complicate things, Thor Hushovd is in the mix as well - basically it's very tight, but Petacchi is the big favourite. He's on 213 points, ahead of Hushovd (203) and Cavendish (197).
It's all smiles in the peloton at the moment, with riders posing for pictures and swapping jerseys (temporarily!). Contador and his Astana team-mates will be cracking open the champagne later too. Meanwhile, Lance has finally put his proper jersey on.
From Im_partial on 606:
"I'm expecting Petacchi to keep the green jersey, barring anything unthinkable, he'll finish close enough to the stage winner, likely Cavendish, to consolidate his first place. "
RadioShack's riders were sporting special jerseys to salute Lance Armstrong and his Livestrong foundation as they rode through the neutral zone in Longjumeau. They aren't anymore, though, because the race organisers have told them to change into their usual kit before the stage starts properly. Lance is still wearing his, for now.
1339: Mark Cavendish on his hopes of another sprint victory today, his 15th in total in the Tour:
"We will just try to be first round the last corner and try to finish it off like we did last year. To win on the Champs Elysees is always pretty special."
The riders have just started out on what, for the next hour or so at least, will be a victory parade for Alberto Contador. He will be enjoying today, as will seven-time winner Lance Armstrong, who is cycling into Paris for the last time before bidding farewell to the Tour for the last time.
It's a big ask but, yes, the man wearing green on the podium in Paris could be Manxman Mark Cavendish. He needs to win his fifth stage of this year's Tour to have any chance of doing so, but
he's got history here, hasn't he...
So, we already know that Alberto Contador will be crowned king of the 2010 Tour de France in a couple of hours time - but who will be the prince of sprints
at the end of a race to remember?