Vincenzo Nibali wins Tour de France in Paris
Italian stays out of trouble in 21st and final stage
Stage won by Marcel Kittel of Germany
Nibali sixth man to win all three Grand Tours
Vincenzo Nibali became only the sixth man in history to win all three of cycling’s major tours as he sealed victory in this year’s Tour de France on the Champs Elysees Sunday.
Nibali stayed out of trouble on the 137.5km stage from Evry, which was won by German sprinter Marcel Kittel of the Giant-Shimano team.
It left the 29-year-old Italian a commanding seven minutes 52 seconds ahead of runner-up Jean Christophe-Peraud with another Frenchman, Thibaut Pinot, in third.
Astana’s Nibali joins illustrious company by adding to his earlier triumphs in the Giro d’Italia and Tour of Spain.
Legends Eddy Merckx of Belgium, France duo Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, Nibali’s fellow Italian Felipe Gimondi and Alberto Contador of Spain are the only others to achieve the feat.
Contador was one of the favorites for this year’s race, but crashed out, as did reigning champion Chris Froome of Britain.
It left the way clear for Nibali, who served notice of his intentions with an audacious break to win the second stage in Sheffield in England and gained more time on the cobbled fifth stage where Froome exited.
Nibali continued to dominate as the race went over the Alps and Pyrenees, winning three more stages to be a deserved winner after three grueling weeks.
Crossing the line with his teammates, he went straight to his wife and baby daughter to celebrate with his family.
“It’s the most important and the best moment, I never imagined it could feel this good because when you find yourself on this podium on the Champs Elysees, it’s unique,” said Nibali.
“Now that I’m here it’s even better than I imagined. I fought for this every day, I started building from a long way out with a winter preparation with the team because we had decided this was our objective.”
Kittel, the star of the early stages of the Tour, used his raw sprinting power to match Nibali’s four wins this year, edging out Norway’s Alexander Kristoff with Ramunas Navardauskas of Lithuania third.
Peter Sagan of Slovakia finished ninth, but had already wrapped up the green jersey for points leader despite failing to win a stage on the 2014 Tour.
Kittel hinted he would be targeting green himself in future races.
“My goals won’t change in the future, especially at the Tour de France,”he told the official Tour de France website.
“I’ll go again for stage wins but I’m not a man of records. I’ve said in the past and I repeat that the green jersey can become an option in the future.”
The 24-year-old Pinot, one of the great hopes of French cycling, took the white jersey for best young rider, with Rafal Majka of Poland winning the King of the Mountains classification.