- The many falls of the first half of the race, the one featuring the car taking out Johnny Hoogerland and Juan Antonio Flecha was the most dramatic. Hoogerland was catapulted into a barbed wire yet managed to finish that stage and claim the polka dot jersey!
- Mark Cavendish winning 5 stages – in the last four years he has won 4, 6, 5 and 5 TdF stages for 20 in total!
- Norway having only 2 riders (Edvald Boasson Hagen and Thor Hushovd) yet they each won two stage wins.
- Thomas Voeckler holding on to yellow day after day from Stage 12 to 18 after claiming it in Stage 9. Amazing.
- Stage 18 was amazing with a successful breakaway by Andy Schleck on the second of three HC climbs (the Col d’Izoard) with some 60km remaining! His lead climbed to around 4 and a half minutes before being reeled in partly by the chase led by Cadel Evans. Against all odds Voeckler (whose previous best result in the Tour de France in six tours was 66th) managed to cling yet again to the yellow jersey. I regarded Frank Schleck as the GC favourite after his less energy-sapping ride.
- Stage 19 had another early attack – this time by Alberto Contador less than 20km into the 109km race! He didn’t manage to hold on for the win, but his ride took a lot out of the legs of the main contenders in trying to chase him down. This tour ended an amazing run of six Grand Tour victories in a row by Alberto Contador, in Grand Tours he contested.A Frenchman (Pierre Roland) won atop Alpe d’Huez for the first time since 1986 and ended up claiming the white jersey for best young rider. Enthralling to watch.
- The final time trial with Evans putting in a brilliant performance despite having what must have been weary legs to take the overall lead by a comfortable margin in the end (2nd in the stage, 2 and a half minutes faster over 42km than the Schleck brothers). He was the oldest to win the Tour since 1923 – yes even older than Lance Armstrong when he won for the seventh time. It is viewed by many including myself as one of the top sporting achievements by an Australian.
Here are some articles I enjoyed reading:
http://www.sportsscientists.com/2011_07_01_archive.html – A view from a Sports Science point of view, including stats on the strength of the cyclists in watts/kg.
http://www.awesomepower.cc/post/6379471964/the-hardest-grand-tour-of-them-all – 3170km in just 8 stages in the 1914 Giro – just 8 out of 81 competitors finished!
http://plataformarecorridosciclistas.org/2009/10/04/etapas-mas-duras-de-la-historia/ (hardest stages of grand tour history: English translation here via Google Translate)