Britain’s Chris Froome has won the 100th edition of the Tour de France.
Taking the title by more than four minutes, he linked arms with his team-mates as he crossed the line in Paris.
It is Britain’s second successive victory in the race – Froome’s Team Sky colleague Sir Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win it a year ago.
Froome’s Tour in numbers
Kilometres covered: 3,404
Time in the saddle: 83hrs 56min 20sec
Winning margin: 4mins 20secs
Stages won: 3 (8, 15 and 17)
Days in the race leader’s yellow jersey: 13/21
Crashes: 1 (before the start of stage 1)
Spectators punched: 1 (stage 20)
Doping tests taken: 19
Fines: £140 & 20 seconds for taking food illegally (stage 18)
Prize money: £380,000 (traditionally it is largely split between his team-mates)
Marcel Kittel claimed the final stage in the twilight, with Manxman Mark Cavendish third in a hotly contested sprint along the Champs Elysees.
Cavendish was attempting a 26th Tour stage win – and a fifth on the trot in Paris – which would have put him third on the all-time list behind five-time Tour winners Eddy Merckx (34) and Bernard Hinault (28).
But he was edged out by a wheel length by Germany’s Kittel, who won a fourth stage on this year’s race and Andre Greipel in the French capital, with more than 350,000 spectators lining the streets.
Froome had finished runner-up last year but with Wiggins electing not to defend his title after injury problems , the 28-year-old was favourite to win the race and he brought the yellow jersey home in emphatic style, ahead of Colombian Nairo Quintana and Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain.
He had first taken the lead when he won the eighth of the 21 stages in a summit finish at Ax 3 Domaines in the Pyrenees.
The Briton, who was born and raised in Kenya, claimed a further two stages in his maiden Tour de France title .
He told ITV4: “Crossing the line with [the] guys brought tears to my eyes. I expected it to be big but this is something else.
“Dave [Team Sky manager Sir Dave Brailsford] has been talking about the future of cycling – the youngsters coming through and the way the sport is moving. I look at the last decade and the way sport is going – we’ve got something to be proud of.”
“It has been a brilliant victory by Chris Froome. He has been far and away the best rider and he has won the best Tour de France for quite a number of years.
“We saw a lot more racing than normal, with riders and teams taking chances and acting on the spur of the moment during stages. It was a far less calculated race than it has been previously, and a reminder of how exciting it can be – there were very few dull days.
“He is young enough to win the race again and again and he is the type of the rider who has his head screwed on. He will realise this could be the start of something very special for him.
“As for Mark Cavendish, I don’t think he was ever 100% throughout this Tour, and Marcel Kittel has come through to show he is going to be a real adversary for him in the future. But it shows how good we think Cavendish is when we are disappointed he has only won two stages in a Tour de France.
“I think it proves how difficult it is to peak for the Tour – it is three weeks once a year and it is very difficult to time things right every year. Cavendish was clearly not at his peak but he has still done remarkably well in the circumstances and I am sure he will be bounce back next year.”
But in the first Tour since disgraced rider Lance Armstrong admitted to doping in his seven Tour de France wins , which have since been expunged from the records, Froome found himself having to answer questions about drugs in the sport.
He added: “I’m glad I’ve had to face those questions – after all the revelations of the last year. I’m glad that’s been channelled towards me.
“I’ve been able to deal with it. Cycling has changed – the peloton is standing together.”
In his victory speech while standing on the podium, Froome dedicated his triumph to his mother Jane, who died of cancer in 2008, for giving him “hopes and dreams”.
“Without her encouragement to follow my dreams, I’d probably be at home watching this event on TV,” he said. “It’s a great shame she never got to come see the Tour, but I’m sure she’d be extremely proud if she were here tonight.”
He also thanked his Team Sky colleagues for “burying themselves” for him during the gruelling race.
“I’d like to thank my team-mates, who have buried themselves day in day out throughout this Tour to keep this yellow jersey on my shoulders, and the Team Sky management for believing in my ability and building this team around me.
“This is one yellow jersey that will stand the test of time,” he added, in a reference to doubters over doping suspicions.
His team-mate Geraint Thomas, who rode nearly all of the race with a fractured pelvis after crashing towards the end of stage one, enjoyed riding across the finish line arm-in-arm with Froome and the five other Team Sky riders who finished the gruelling race.
The Welshman, who missed last year’s Tour to focus on his Olympic track ambitions, said: “That was special.
“It was nice for all of us to come together, because it doesn’t happen everyday. When you are a kid you dream of riding the Tour and coming to Paris, but I never even thought that one day I would be part of a British team, with a British rider winning.
“You know, I missed that only last year but it more than makes up for it this year.”
Twitter tributes to Froome
- Prime Minister David Cameron: A brilliant win by Chris Froome. After two British winners it’s only right the Tour de France comes to Yorkshire next year
- Former British world heavyweight champion boxer Lennox Lewis: Big up to @chrisfroome
- British tennis player Heather Watson: Congratulations to Chris Froome and the Sky Team for winning the Tour de France 2013
Brailsford added: “The lads rode a fantastic race and I think there isn’t a better setting for cycling in the world, or any setting.
“The Champs Elysees, an iconic place, and this year the sun is going down, it is very emotional you know.
“It is pretty intense the way we work, and we ask a lot of the guys, we ask a lot of the back room staff, we ask a lot of the riders, and to be fair I think they give their all.
“I hope people are happy, but certainly the team and Chris are very very happy.”
The final stage started as a procession, as is the tradition, and the 170 riders headed off from Versailles with Rodriguez celebrating his third place overall by handing out cigars to fellow podium finishers Froome, donning a yellow bike, and Quintana.
The Brit was also handed a glass of celebratory champagne as he rode alongside a Team Sky car with its branding coloured in yellow, while he was surrounded by team-mates in special yellow-tinged sunglasses.
The sun was beginning to set as they arrived in the centre of Paris and Froome made sure his trusty wingman Richie Porte led the Sky train over the finish line of the Champs-Elysees on the first of 10 circuits.
A few riders attempted breakaways, included Britain’s David Millar, but they were swallowed up by the peloton and it was left to the sprinters to contest the final straight.
Kittel, who has been called the “next big thing” by Cavendish triumphed and said: “Four. I can’t believe it.
“It was a dream of mine to win on the Champs Elysees and now I’ve done it. I’m so proud.
“It’s nice compliments from a guy like Mark. He’s a nice guy and he actually wished me good luck before the start of today’s race. That was really sporting.”
Results of stage 21:
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Argos-Shimano 3 hours, 6 minutes, and 14 seconds
2. Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol +0
3. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma-Quick Step +0
4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale +0
5. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida +0
Overall classification – final standings
1. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky 83 hours, 56 minutes, and 40 seconds
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar +4:20
3. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha +5:04
4. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff +6:27
5. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff +7:27
33. Daniel Martin (Ire) Garmin +1:13:08
39. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC +1:30:14
40. Nicolas Roche (Ire) Saxo-Tinkoff +1:34:17
77. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Team Sky +2:33:46
113. David Millar (GB) Garmin +3:14:25
135. Ian Stannard (GB) Team Sky +3:38:49
140. Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky +3:43:34
148. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma-Quickstep +3:52:04
King of the mountains jersey – final standings
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar 147
2 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky 136
3. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar 117
4. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha 99
5. Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R 98
Green points jersey – final standings
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale 409
2. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma – Quickstep 312
3. Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto 267
4. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Argos-Shimano 222
5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha 177