Sir Bradley Wiggins added the Tour of Britain title to his collection after sealing an emphatic victory in London.
British road race champion Mark Cavendish won the concluding stage, his third stage win in this year's race.
But Wiggins, 33, negotiated the 10-lap 88km course along the Thames to retain his place at the top of the standings.
"I said I wanted to win it. It is pressure for the whole week," said Wiggins, who finished safely in the bunch and now turns his attentions to Wednesday's Road World Championships time-trial in Italy.
"Until you cross the line you just don't know. It's all right to think it's a bit of a ceremony round London, but it certainly isn't.
"You cross the line, you're pumped up. It's relief that you've finished and fulfilled it for your team and your team-mates."
After a near-perfect leadout from Omega Pharma-QuickStep team-mate Alessandro Petacchi, Cavendish sprinted away from Sam Bennett and Elia Viviani in a flat-out dash to the finish at Whitehall and claimed the concluding stage in the Tour of Britain for a third successive year.
"This race is thriving. The amount [of spectators] is something I didn't think we'd see," said the 28-year-old, who now has a record 10 stage victories in the event.
And Simon Yates, the British Under-23 team rider who completed a successful day for the home nation by placing third overall, said: "The crowd was unreal. The noise all the way round was deafening."
Ahead of the men's final stage, the Westminster Grand Prix was staged for women and was won by Hannah Barnes, who has dominated the domestic scene this season.
There will be a separate women's Tour of Britain next year.
Stage eight result:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma Quick Step - 1hr 47min 22sec
2. Sam Bennett (Ire) An Post-Chainreaction - same time
3. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling - same time
4. Matteo Pelucchi (It) IAM Cycling - same time
5. Chris Opie (GB) Team UK Youth - same time
6. Evaldas Siskevicius (Lit) Sojasun - same time
7. Sacha Modolo (It) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox - same time
8. Alessandro Petacchi (It) Omega Pharma Quick Step - same time
9. Enrique Sanz (Sp) Movistar Team - same time
10. Blaz Jarc (Slo) Team NetApp-Endura - same time
Final general classification:
1. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky - 29 hours 45 minutes 22 seconds
2. Martin Elmiger (Swi) - IAM Cycling - at 26 seconds
3. Simon Yates (GB) - Great Britain - at 1 min 3 seconds
4. David Lopez (Sp) - Team Sky - at 1 min 8 seconds
5. Jack Bauer (NZ) - Garmin - at 1 min 13 seconds
6. Sergio Pardilla (Sp) - Team MTN - at 1 min 16 seconds
7. Ian Stannard (GB) - Team Sky - at 1 min 34 seconds
8. Sebastien Reichenbach (Swi) - IAM Cycling - at 1 min 42 seconds
9. Michal Golas (Pol) - Omega Pharma Quick-Step - at 1 min 46 seconds
10. Marcel Wyss (COL) - IAM Cycling - at 1 min 57 seconds