Tour de France - Favourite Tour de France memories: Cavendish's 'Holy Grail'

We asked Eurosport's cycling experts and a handful of current pro riders for their favourite recollections of Tour de France history, with Mark Cavendish understandably picking the Champs Elysees sprints as his standout memories.

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Tour de France - Favourite Tour de France memories: Cavendish's 'Holy Grail'
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Baden Cooke and Robbie McEwen at the 2003 Tour de France (Reuters)

Mark Cavendish – Omega Pharma-Quickstep sprinter and winner of 23 Tour de France stages

"Every stage win is special for me. Every Tour stage is as important as the last. As a fan I always had this fascination with the Champs Elysees, it’s like the Holy Grail for a sprinter. Even not so long ago, when Baden Cooke won the green jersey on the Champs Elysees in a sprint against Robbie McEwan which decided it. I’m riding with those guys now, but just seeing the atmosphere there, it’s just incredible. It’s the most difficult sprint in the world, it’s the most difficult one to get right. Even a guy in one of my old teams said to me, I don’t know if you can ever win on the Champs Elysees, it’s really difficult. Erik Zabel never won the Champs Elysees. So for a sprinter it’s this iconic finish, but it also means you’ve finished the Tour de France for every rider not just the sprinters, you’ve completed the three weeks, you’ve got the toughest bike race in the world, it signifies a lot."

Jonathan Tiernan-Locke – Team Sky all-rounder and winner of the 2012 Tour of Britain

"I did think it was pretty cool last year when David Millar won his, I thought that was excellent. Just from where he’s come from and his position in cycling now and how he rode it, I thought that was pretty cool."

Christian Knees – Team Sky domestique and 2010 German National Road Race champion

"When I was growing up I remember watching Miguel Indurain win the Tour and then of course Jan Ullrich, which was fantastic and a great memory. I have watched the Tour many times when I was younger, but nothing compares to riding the Champs Elysees with the yellow jersey in your team knowing you have won the Tour de France."

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Sean Kelly – Eurosport commentator and winner of multiple stage and one day races

"As a rider, winning the green jersey a number of times is great, fantastic memories. But they are spread out over three weeks. In terms of an individual moment, my first Tour de France stage win is one of the memories I look back at. I was in my second year professionally and my first Tour de France. I managed to get in a breakaway and managed to win a stage in my first Tour de France outing. That was pretty special."

Magnus Backstedt – Eurosport commentator and winner of the 2004 Paris-Roubaix

"That’s an easy one. My stage 19 win in the 1998 Tour de France is a moment I will always look back on and smile. To ride in the Tour de France is special in itself, but to win a stage is something else entirely. It was the moment I had been waiting for my whole life and totally changed my career. From that point on I was considered a top rider capable of competing with the best."

David Harmon – Eurosport commentator

"There are a few moments that stick out for me. The very famous shot of Stephen Roche chasing Pedro Delgado in 1987 which defined my early years watching the Tour. I remember the great Phil Liggett commentating on it. I was working in Wales at the time, and I wasn’t massively interested in cycling but it was a terrific moment, the type of moment when hairs on the back of your neck stand up. There’s also the '89 Tour, the eight seconds which separated Greg LeMond and Laurent Fignon, two men who I really liked as bike riders. Fignon then became a good friend of mine and I feel very privileged to have known him. I liked LeMond because he encapsulated everything that wasn’t normal in a bike rider. He was incredibly talented but just didn’t think like other people, and really brought the sport up to a different level. The dramatic pictures of Fignon collapsed on the floor, just beside himself. On the podium as well, the look of bereft horror, not knowing what to do with himself which was unfortunate, but that’s bike racing. You can’t ignore Wiggins last year as well. I never thought I’d see a Brit win in my lifetime so that was just incredible. But not only that, to see someone who I’ve known for many, many years win it meant so much.

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Brian Smith – General Manager for Team NetApp-Endura

For me being Scottish, it was 1983 and I was 16. I was in the Italian Riviera and I would go out riding my bike with the family. In the afternoon we would sit down to watch the Tour de France. It was stage 10 and Robert Millar had broken away in his first Tour de France. He was a rider that I didn’t really know because I wasn’t long into cycling but he used to train near to the family house. People used to point out to me he’s a pro bike rider but it didn’t really go through my head. So I’ve sat there watching it, and then I recognised who it was, so to know him and also being Scottish to see him race and win the stage after Delgado was chasing him was fantastic. For me that was very special because it was so relevant. Also a moment which should be in everyone’s favourite moments in my opinion was the final stage battle between Greg LeMond and Laurent Fignon in 1989. LeMond needed to get back over 50 seconds and he ended up winning by eight seconds, which is the smallest margin in Tour de France history.

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