Tour de France 2014: Marcel Kittel wins final stage on Champs-Elysees as Vincenzo Nibali is confirmed as champion
Nibali becomes the first Italian to win the Tour since 1998
Vincenzo Nibali crossed the last line of the Tour de France in Paris safely in 81st position but with the yellow jersey – finally – his for keeps.
Standing alone on the podium, the 29-year-old Sicilian fought back the tears as the Italian national anthem rang out over the Champs-Elysées, with his wife Rachele and daughter Emma watching from close by.
“This is something unique, I never imagined it could have happened, but I fought for it day by day,” Nibali said. “As long ago as last winter, with my team we decided this would be the year’s objective, and without my team and my family I would never have achieved it.”
Nibali’s speech came on the same podium where nine years ago Lance Armstrong had attacked his detractors in his victory speech as “sceptics and cynics”. But given that they would be proved right, it was surely not unreasonable for a French TV commentator to ask Nibali if cycling had put its murky doping past behind it for good. “It’s not just my victory, there have been many clean wins and cycling is moving forward. We can be proud of it,” Nibali – never implicated in any doping scandal – replied.
Vincenzo Nibali poses on the podium after winning the Tour de France
The Tour’s final stage, a 137km (86-mile) run from Evry to Paris, was won by one of the three riders to wear yellow this year, Germany’s Marcel Kittel, who triumphed in the opening stage at Harrogate.
Ill in the second week after taking three wins early on, Kittel received a faultless lead out from three Giant-Shimano team-mates to add a fourth triumph to his total and repeat last year’s victory on the Champs-Elysées.
Vincenzo Nibali on the final stage of the Tour de France
Kittel’s win both deprived Alexandre Kristoff, second in the stage, of any chance of equalling his total of wins this year and also meant Peter Sagan is the Tour’s first points classification winner not to take any stages since Thor Hushovd in 2005.
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