Chris Froome has won the 100th edition of the Tour de France, maintaining his comfortable lead around the streets of Paris in the 21st and final stage. The Kenyan-born Briton rolled in arm-in-arm with his Sky teammates.
German rider Marcel Kittel won the final stage of the 3,404-kilometer (2,115-mile) Tour de France on Sunday, but it was peloton finisher Chris Froome who secured the major award.
Froome rode in with his Sky teammates, easily maintaining a lead of four minutes and 20 seconds over second-placed Colombian rider Nairo Quintana. Newcomer Quintana also won the white jersey for best young rider and the polka-dot jersey for best climber. Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez held onto third place in the overall standings, five minutes and four seconds adrift of Froome. 2007 and 2009 champion Alberto Contador finished fourth after his setback in the penultimate stage on Saturday.
Froome won the race just a year after his Sky teammate Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton ever to win cycling's most prestigious event.
"It's going to take a while to sink in," he said after the race. "It really has been a special edition of the Tour de France this year. Every day I woke up knowing I faced a fresh challenge... and I have to thank all my teammates for helping me achieve this dream."
Last year, it was runner-up Froome playing rear gunner for Wiggins as the Sky team rallied around their other British star. Wiggins missed this year's race for health reasons.
The British rider claimed ownership of the leader's yellow jersey on Stage 8, never subsequently releasing it. His performances through the Pyrenees and on the climbs helped cement the largest winning margin since German Jan Ullrich's 1997 victory.
Ullrich has since admitted, like cycling legend Lance Armstrong, to using performance enhancing substances. Unlike Armstrong, who also won the Tour by margins exceeding Froome's five minutes, Ullrich's name is yet to be stricken from the race's record books.
Slim German pickings, Voigt likely calls time
Andreas Klöden was the best-placed German finisher, just over an hour adrift of Froome in 30th place.
Second among the Germans was 41-year-old Jens Voigt, 67th overall and two-and-a-quarter hours off the lead pace. Voigt was competing in his 16th Tour de France, the most of any German rider in history, and said during the race: "I'm almost sure that this was my last Tour."
To support that theory, Voigt frequently joined breakaway groups during this year's race, bravely leaving the comfort and aerodynamic protection of the main pack of riders to seek a stage victory. He never achieved this goal, but in one stage pushed so hard in his attempts that he had to stop and vomit twice.
"It was clear to me that I was fighting a losing battle. But hey, I'm Jens Voigt and that's what I've been doing for years. Having a go nevertheless despite all the odds," Voigt said towards the end of this year's Tour, with referring to himself in the third person apparently a frequent indulgence.
"He's a Peter Pan of cycling," former teammate Bradley McGee said. "He doesn't age, he's an absolute freak."
"I remember in the Tour of Germany one year, we were coming up to climb. He was leading on GC [general classification] but there were eight or nine climbing specialists who were snaping around looking for his leader's jersey," McGee recalled of Voigt. "He was riding along just talking to himself, just saying: 'Yes Jensie! You are strong enough Jensie! You can do this Jensie!'"
A total of 169 riders finished this year's Tour de France. Kittel's stage win on Sunday, his fourth of the Tour, bagged him the honor of top sprinter at the event.
"Four! I can't believe it," Kittel said. "It was a dream of mine to win on the Champs Elysees and now I've done it. I'm so proud."
msh/dr (AFP, AP, dpa, SID)