First, let me say that Gavia and I really appreciate how things rolled the last two weeks. Thanks to so many of you for tons of hard work, Editors and other contributors, and thanks to everyone for keeping it lively without straying too far from our Code of Respectful Snark, or was it Snarky Respecfulness? Anyway, the Tour comes with a lot of hot buttons, but even with all that it was pure fun.
I'd like to hand out a few more chapeaus, to the guys on the bike. I can think of three, and invite y'all to gin up some more:
Juan Jose Rojas Gil, Caisse d'Epargne
One thing to note about JJ's fourth placing in the points competition is that he pretty much shadowed Thor Hushovd on the climbs. Just 25, you have to give some serious consideration to Rojas as a future green jersey winner in a year where the mid-mountains are more influential on the classification than the bunch sprints. That said, he could stand to close the gap a bit in the bunch gallops.
Mark Cavendish, HTC-Columbia
OK, I know. But you have to admire the fact that the guy was just as dominant without Mark Renshaw (and George Hincapie) as he had been with those illustrious helpers on his side. He's a more complete rider than we might be giving him credit for.
Denis Menchov, Rabobank
Any time a guy makes the podium, he's hardly unsung. But that final time trial, 53km into what became a nasty headwind, after three weeks on the bike. And Menchov killed it: among the top ten GC guys (i.e. the guys riding under the same conditions), there was Menchov at 11th place, 3.53 behind Cancellara, then the next guy was Contador in 35th, at 5.43. Menchov blew away the rest of the top ten that day. Had conditions been normalized for all, he would have been challenging Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara for the win. This podium finish was his second, but has to be his best, considering that in 2008 Andy Schleck was a helper for Sastre and Contador was on forced vacation.