Marcel Kittel of Argos Shimano has become the first man ever to beat Mark Cavendish on the Champs-Elysees in a three-way sprint also involving Lotto Belisol's Andre Greipe, who pipped the Omega Pharma Quick Step rider to second place. Moments after the main peloton had crossed the finish line, Chris Froome, flanked by Team Sky colleagues, completed the final stage to confirm his overall victory, succeeding team mate Sir Bradley Wiggins, whom he finished second to last year.
It was the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team of Cavendish that led the peloton onto the Rue de Rivoli for the final time ahead of the flamme rouge, just as his previous teams, HTC-Highroad and Team Sky, had done over the past four years as he rode to victory.
This time, however, the result was different; by the time the peloton hit the Place de la Concorde, it was Lotto Belisol and Argos Shimano that were at the front. Onto the Champs-Elysees and the closing few hundred metres, and Cavendish was fighting it out for the win with Greipel and Kitte, but despite a desparate late burst he ran out of road as the Argos Shimano man took his fourth victory of the race.
Cannondale's Peter Sagan finished fourth to seal a comprehensive victory in the points competition that he won last year, and becomes the first man to retain the green jersey since Erik Zabel did so in 2001.
Big crowds - a big proportion of them British - lined the circuit in Paris which in a break with tradition went round the back of the Arc de Triomphe in a sweeping arc, rather than the usual hairpin bend before the monument, with the riders having not only to deal with the fan-patterned cobbles, but also an adverse camber.
After the 64 kilometre run-in from Versailles, accompanied by the usual photocalls and glasses of Champagne, Team Sky led the peloton onto the ten laps of the final circuit, running from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe, that concluded the 100th edition of the race, Froome moving alongisde each of his team mates as they came onto the Champs-Elysees.
He wasn't the only British rider in the spotlight today. Garmin-Sharp's David Millar, who wore the yellow jersey after winning the Prologue in the 2000 Tour de France and was a stage winner last year, spent most of the nine laps of the Champs-Elysees circuit at the head of the race.
The Scot launched the first attack once the race hit central Paris with 53 kilometres to go and was joined by several other riders. He and Vacansoleil-DCM's Juan Antonio Flecha soon shook off their fellow escapees, and with 31 kilometres left Millar dropped the Spaniard, too.
But his advantage never went beyond half a minute and he was back in the peloton with 20 kilometres to go as fresh attacks came out of the peloton.
The move that stuck, at least until it was brought back early on the final lap, involved BMC Racing's Manuel Quinziato, Alejandro Valverde of Movistar, and Belkin's Bram Tankink.
At around the time Millar launched his initial attack, Cavendish punctured and had to be paced back to the peloton by his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team mates, but with more than 40 kilometres to go they were back at the head of the group, controlling the race.
Also a permanent presence towards the front of the peloton was Froome, surrounded by Team Sky colleagues, as they looked to keep the yellow jersey out of trouble on a day that finishes with him one step higher on the podium than 12 months ago.
One rider who began the stage today didn't make it to the end of the race - Vacansoleil-DCM's Lieuwe Westra, who had been struggling with illness, and was off the back on the Champs-Elyees, eventually finding the pace on a humid evening to much to take.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.