Tour de France: Vincenzo Nibali completes victory as Marcel Kittel wins stage 21 in Paris
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 27/07/14 9:05pm
Vincenzo Nibali completed overall victory of the Tour de France by safely negotiating a tense final stage into Paris won by Marcel Kittel.
Nibali crossed the finish line on the Champs-Elysees in the peloton to seal a dominant 7min 52sec victory over Jean-Christophe Peraud, who recovered from a crash with 43km remaining to consolidate second place overall.
Nibali is the first Italian winner of the Tour since 1998 and becomes only the sixth rider in history to have won all three Grand Tours, joining Jacques Anquetil, Felice Gimondi, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Alberto Contador.
Kittel claimed his second consecutive victory on the Champs-Elysees – widely regarded as cycling’s most prestigious sprint – and fourth win of this year’s Tour after beating Alexander Kristoff into second and Ramunas Navardauskas into third.
Kittel said: “I tried to pass Kristoff at the end and at one moment he couldn’t accelerate any more, and that was my moment to pass him just before the finish line. I am super proud and very happy.”
In his victory speech, Nibali said: “Now that I am here on the top step of the podium, it is more beautiful than I could ever have imagined. I have worked towards this for a very long time. Now I have managed to achieve this goal.”
The 137.5km final stage began in Evry and was largely processional up until the riders reached the finishing circuit in Paris, with Nibali posing for photos with his Astana team-mates and receiving congratulations from his fellow riders.
However, when racing began with 56km to go, the stage suddenly became treacherous as teams looked to put riders in the breakaway, ramping the pace up in the process and stringing the bunch out in a long line.
All of the general classification riders were merely looking to stay safe and preserve their places in the overall standings, but Peraud crashed heavily and became cut adrift of the marauding peloton.
Nibali rode to the front of the bunch to ask the pace-setters to slow down and wait for Peraud, and although riders continued to attack, the main body of the peloton backed off sufficiently to let the Frenchman rejoin around 6km after his fall.
Things settled down further when a four-man breakaway moved clear shortly after, and although Richie Porte then attacked from that group with 13.5km to go, his was reeled in by the main pack 6km later as the sprint teams successfully set up their desired bunch finish.
Kittel’s Giant-Shimano team turned the last corner in pole position, but Katusha’s Kristoff launched his sprint early and surged past and into the lead. It looked like he would narrowly hold off Kittel, only for the German to find a second kick in the last 75m and win by a half a wheel.
Nibali puffed out his cheeks in relief as he followed them over the line in the main bunch, while Rafal Majka, Peter Sagan and Thibaut Pinot all also managed to stay safe to seal victory in the mountains, points and best young rider classifications respectively.
Stage 21 result
1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano, 3:20:50
2 Alexander Kristoff (Nor)Katusha, same time
3 Ramunas Navardauskas (Lth) Garmin Sharp, st
4 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol, st
5 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, st
6 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky, st
7 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar, st
8 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, st
9 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale, st
10 Romain Feillu (Fra) Bretagne - Séché Environnement, st
Final general classification
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, 89:58:46
2 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +7:52
3 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, +8:24
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +9:55
5 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC, +11:44
6 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +11:46
7 Leopold Konig (Cze) NetApp – Endura, +14:41
8 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek Factory Racing, +18:12
9 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin, +18:20
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin, +21:24