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Nibali clinches Tour de France victory

ESPN staff
July 27, 2014 « Langer tears up record books to win Senior Open | Day 6: Maria Ho eliminated, 68 left »
Vincenzo Nibali becomes the first Italian to win the Tour de France since 1998 © Getty Images
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Vincenzo Nibali completed his maiden victory in the Tour de France as Marcel Kittel won a sprint finish to the processional final stage in Paris.

Nibali had been the expected winner of cycling's greatest race from the moment he dominated in the Alps - something defending champion Chris Froome says would have been much different had he and Alberto Contador still been competing.

The Astana rider was brought home safely by his team and afforded the customary glass of champagne on the ride in to the Champs-Elysees. Kittel sprinted clear in the closing battle to repeat his Paris victory of last year, but the plaudits were all Nibali's, who becomes the first Italian to win the event since Marco Pantani in 1998.

"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," said Nibali. "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."

The host nation had plenty to celebrate, though, with two podium finishers - Jean-Christophe Peraud and Thibaut Pinot - for the first time in 30 years.

Slovakia's Peter Sagan took the green jersey for overall points winner, Rafal Majka of Poland was King of the Mountains, while French team AG2R La Mondiale won the overall Team race.

After two successive British victories in 2012 and 2013, Geraint Thomas finished this year's event as the leading Briton in 22nd place, almost an hour behind Nibali.

Vincenzo Nibali races past the Arc de Triomphe on his way to a famous win in the Tour de France © Getty Images
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