Tour de France: Vincenzo Nibali completes race victory

Vincenzo Nibali won the 101st edition of the Tour de France as he finished the final stage on the Champs-Elysees in Paris safely in the peloton.

The Italian is the sixth man to win all three Grand Tours - the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana.

His winning margin of seven minutes 37 seconds over Jean-Christophe Peraud in second is the biggest since Jan Ullrich won by more than nine minutes in 1997.

Germany's Marcel Kittel won Sunday's traditional final-stage sprint finish.

The Giant-Shimano rider outsprinted Norway's Alexander Kristoff to win his fourth stage of this year's Tour, with Garmin-Sharp's Lithuanian Ramunas Navardauskas in third.

For Nibali, the 21st and final stage was all about reaching the finish safely because Tour tradition dictates that the leader going into the final stage should not be challenged.

The 29-year-old Astana rider dominated the Tour from the moment he took the race lead on stage two in Sheffield and wore the race leader's yellow jersey for 18 of the race's 21 days.

He is the first Italian winner of the race since Marco Pantani in 1998.

Vincenzo Nibali's Grand Tour record

Year Giro d'Italia Tour de France Vuelta a Espana

DNE - did not enter

2007

19th

DNE

DNE

2008

11th

20th

DNE

2009

DNE

7th

DNE

2010

3rd

DNE

Winner

2011

2nd

DNE

7th

2012

DNE

3rd

DNE

2013

Winner

DNE

2nd

2014

DNE

Winner

-

"It's very difficult to make a comparison between Pantani's victory and my victory, because Marco won his in the last week, two days before the end," the Sicilian said.

"For me it's the contrary - I had the yellow jersey on my back after two days.

"After winning the Vuelta, the Giro and the Tour, I'll keep focusing on Grand Tours but I'd also like to crown it all with a world champion's rainbow jersey one year."

He added: "The Vuelta was perhaps the most important competition because it gave me the strength to go into the Giro and the Tour in the following year.

"The Giro was an important competition for the Italian public. Within the context of the Tour de France it's something even greater than the Giro. It's a more emotional, intense moment."

Vincenzo Nibali of Italy and Astana Pro Team celebrates victory in the yellow jersey on the podium

After 21 stages, Nibali celebrates victory on the Paris podium in the race winner's yellow jersey

Nibali won the hilly second stage in Yorkshire, that had begun in York, and strengthened his position on the cobbles of northern France on stage five, finishing more than two minutes ahead of two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador, while Britain's defending champion Chris Froome crashed out.

Contador was then forced to pull out with a fractured leg after crashing on stage 10, as Nibali tightened his grip on the race by winning his second stage.

A third stage victory followed in the Alps and a fourth in the Pyrenees as the Italian underlined his superiority in the race.

Sunday's 137.5km stage began in pedestrian fashion in Evry with Nibali collecting champagne flutes from his Astana team car to distribute among his team-mates and then posing for photographs with race officials.

The pace finally quickened as the peloton reached the outskirts of Paris for eight laps of a seven kilometre route that had earlier been used for the women's La Course, which was won by Dutch world champion Marianne Vos.

France's Sylvain Chavanel was the first rider to attack on the Champs-Elysees on the opening lap in Paris, while Germany's Jens Voigt was allowed to race clear on the second lap, in recognition of it being the 42-year-old's 17th and final Tour.

There was a slight scare for 37-year-old Peraud, who crashed on the third of the eight circuits of Paris, but Nibali, as Tour etiquette dictates, told the peloton to slow down to allow the Frenchman to rejoin the main bunch.

Magnus Backstedt - Former Tour de France stage winner

Listen to the 5 live podcast

"Nibali has stayed out of trouble. We've had some difficult terrain and he's a worthy winner. You have to stay on your bike and get to Paris. He has been the best man to do that and he's had a superb team, who have looked after him every step of the way. He won it across the cobblestones on stage five. He put so much time into everyone else. For me this has been the best Tour in a number of years."

Peraud stayed upright for the remainder of the race to finish second overall, ahead of 24-year-old compatriot Thibaut Pinot, who also won the white jersey as the quickest under-25 rider.

It is the first time in 17 years that a home rider has finished in the top three - Richard Virenque was second in 1997 - and the first time in 30 years that two Frenchmen will finish on the podium - Laurent Fignon beat Bernard Hinault to the title in 1984. Hinault was also the last French winner in 1985.

Richie Porte, who took over as Team Sky's leader after Froome crashed out, was responsible for the day's biggest break, building an advantage of more than 20 seconds with Tinkoff-Saxo rider Michael Morkov and Lampre's Jose Serpa.

Porte raced clear on his own with two laps remaining. However, there was no fairy-tale ending for the Australian - who has endured a torrid Tour - or his British-based team, which has won the previous two editions with Froome and Sir Bradley Wiggins. Porte was caught with 7.5km remaining.

The final lap was all about the sprinters and Kittel was fastest as he won the final stage in Paris for a second successive year.

Stage 21 result

1. Marcel Kittel (Ger/Giant-Shimano) 3hrs 20mins 50secs

2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/Katusha) Same time

3. Ramunas Navardauskas (Lit/Garmin-Sharp)

4. Andre Greipel (Ger/Lotto-Belisol)

5. Mark Renshaw (Aus/Omega Pharma - Quick-Step)

6. Bernhard Eisel (Aut/Team Sky)

7. Bryan Coquard (Fra/Europcar)

8. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita/Omega Pharma - Quick-Step)

9. Peter Sagan (Svk/Cannondale)

10. Romain Feillu (Fra/Bretagne-Seche)

Final classification

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana) 89hrs 59mins 06secs

2. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra/AG2R) +7mins 37secs

3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/FDJ.fr) +8mins 15secs

4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +9mins 40secs

5. Tejay van Garderen (US/BMC Racing) +11mins 44secs

Selected:

22. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) +59mins 14secs

(l-r) Rafal Majka, Thibaut Pinot, Vincenzo Nibali and Peter Sagan

The main jersey winners (l-r): King of the Mountains Rafal Majka, young rider Thibaut Pinot, race winner Nibali and points winner Peter Sagan

Vincenzo Nibali with Claire Pedrono, the official timekeeper

Nibali posed for several photos on the way into Paris, including with Claire Pedrono, the official Tour timekeeper

Vincenzo Nibali rides past the Arc de Triomphe

The race takes in some of the most iconic sights in the centre of Paris