To see their smiles, you'd never guess they'd just covered 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometers) in just over three weeks. With only two rest days during their trek across France (and a handful of other countries), Team Garmin and the rest of the elite pros in the peloton averaged more than 100 miles on each of their days in the saddle from Monaco to Paris. And when all was said and done, the argyle armada put two cyclists in the top eight - Bradley Wiggins, the revelation of the race, finishing fourth; and Christian Vande Velde, a model of consistency in eighth place overall after finishing fourth last year and suffering five fractured vertebrae just weeks ago.
But the aches, breaks and bruises were nowhere to be found among the argyle armada just moments after delivering American sprinting sensation Tyler Farrar to yet another top-three finish along the famous Champs-Elysees. In doing so, Team Garmin completed the grueling race with all nine riders (an impressive feat in itself) and wrapped up second place in the overall team standings. So it's no surprise that laughs, hugs, pizza and cold drinks replaced the typical post-race recovery of massage, hydration bottles and Allen Lim's rice cakes and stir-fry. David Millar - who I'd last seen in person the day he wowed hundreds of thousands of fans along the roads to Barcelona with his solo attack - was beaming as he signed autographs and took pictures with every fan who asked. Julian Dean, the leadout man who helped Tyler reach the finish line in proper position, embraced team founder Jonathan Vaughters after another successful July. Ryder Hesjedal, the lone Canadian in the peloton, showed off his new aerodynamic racing stripes shaved in his head. Dave Zabriskie, Danny Pate and Martijn Maaskant were greeted by the best fans in cycling, all of which know that every man on the team - and every person on the Garmin-Slipstream staff - played a pivotal role in putting Wiggo and Christian in the top eight. The evening ended with the ceremonial procession down the Champs, the cyclists literally riding off into the sunset, reminding us of the amazing accomplishment we all just enjoyed and the amazing opportunities still to come for Team Garmin.
For more behind-the-scenes access and race coverage, visit the Team Garmin site, our Flickr photo gallery, Garmin's YouTube channel, acclaimed filmmaker Nigel Dick's behind-the-scenes videos and the Garmin and Slipstream blogs.