Tour de France Stage 21: Vincenzo Nibali wins overall as Marcel Kittel takes sprint in Paris
Astana rider becomes sixth man ever to complete Grand Tour hat-trick
Marcel Kittel of Giant Shimano has won on the Champs-Elysees for the second year in a row, on a day when Vincenzo Nibali of Astana became just the sixth man to win all three of cycling's Grand Tours as he safely negotiated the final stage to Paris.
Katusha's Alexander Kristoff, winner of two stages in this year's race, led Kittel coming off the Place de la Concorde but the German sprinter overhauled him ahead of the line to take his fourthstage win of this year's race. Garmin-Sharp's Ramunas Navardauskas, winner of Stage 19 on Friday, finished third.
Peter Sagan of Cannondale wins the points jersey - his consistency overcoming the fact he didn't win a stage - FDJ.fr's Thibaut Pinot is confirmed as best young rider, and Rafal Majka of Tinkoff-Saxo is King of the Mountains. AG2R win the team competition.
The road into Paris on the 137.5 kilometre stage from Evry was ridden at the sedate pace characteristic of the closing day of the Tour de France, with jersey winners posing for photographs and Champagne drunk in typical end-of-term scenes.
Once Nibali’s Astana team led the champion-in-waiting off the Rue de Rivoli and onto the Champs-Elysées to begin the first of the nine laps of the 7 kilometre closing circuit, which as last year went behind the Arc de Triomphe rather than turning ahead of it, the day’s proceedings began in earnest.
A Tour de France that began three weeks ago with the Red Arrows trailing red, white and blue smoke over Yorkshire entered its closing 54 kilometres with their French counterparts, the Patrouille de France, doing likewise, the same colours appearing in the sky over the French capital.
Besides the sprinters with their eyes on victory in the stage, the finale in the French capital also represented a final chance for teams to get riders into the break on one of the most high-profile days on the calendar.
Fans’ favourite Jens Voigt of Trek Factory Racing, riding his final Tour de France and who this year equals the record of 17 participations held by George Hincapie and Stuart O’Grday, attacked with 48 kilometres left.
It didn’t stick, but the German rider did have the honour of taking the final intermediate sprint of this year’s race, a high note on which to sign off.
Subsequently, four riders got off the front, including Team Sky’s Richie Porte, whose challende for the overall fell apart in the Alps due to illness.
The Tasmanian was the last man standing from the break, but was reeled in with 7.5 kilometres remaining ahead of the inevitable bunch sprint.