Paris, France (4E Sports) – Vincenzo Nibali became the first Italian in 16 years to capture the Tour de France, after dominating cycling’s most prestigious event for 18 out of 21 racing days.
The 29-year-old Nibali became the first Italian to win the event since Marco Pantani in 1998, the year before Lance Armstrong won the first of his seven straight titles, which was later vacated due to use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Nibali also became the sixth rider to win all three of the Grand Tours — France, Italy and Spain. Nibali won the Vuelta a Espana in 2010 and the Giro d’Italia in 2013.
“Those past few days, when I was asked which one was my best moment of the Tour, I anticipated that no feeling of happiness could be compared to what we feel on the podium at the Champs-Elysées,” said Nibali.
“Hadn’t I had my wife Rachele and my baby girl Emma on my side, hadn’t I grown up as a young cyclist with parents like mines, I’m not sure I would have made it to here,” he added.
France’s Jean-Christophe Peraud crashed during the final stage but recovered, finishing seven minutes and 37 seconds behind Nibali. Thibaut Pinot was third, followed by Spain’s Alejandro Valverde Belmonte and American Tejay Van Garderen.
Germany’s Marcel Kittel captured the final stage on the Champs-Elysees for a second straight year, this time narrowly beating Norwegian Alexander Kristoff at the finish line.
Kittel, who had four stage wins this year, finished in three hours, 20 minutes and 50 seconds and passed Kristoff just before the finish line.
Lithuania’s Ramunas Navardauskas was third, followed by Germany’s Andre Greipel and Australia’s Mark Renshaw.
Opportunity opened up for Nibali after past champions Chris Froome and Alberto Contador and top rider Mark Cavendish were forced out due to crashes.