Italy's Nibali wins Tour de France
Paris, France (SportsNetwork.com) - Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour de France on Sunday, the first Italian in 16 years to capture cycling's most prestigious event.
Germany's Marcel Kittel captured the final stage on the Champs-Elysees for a second straight year, this time narrowly beating Norwegian Alexander Kristoff at the finish line.
Nibali, 29, became the sixth rider to win all three of the Grand Tours -- France, Italy and Spain -- and is the first Italian to capture the Tour de France since Marco Pantani in 1998, the year before Lance Armstrong claimed the first of his now-vacated seven straight victories.
Nibali won the Vuelta a Espana in 2010 and the Giro d'Italia in 2013.
"Those past few days, when I was asked which one was my best moment of the Tour, I anticipated that no feeling of happiness could be compared to what we feel on the podium at the Champs-Elysees," Nibali said.
"It's even more beautiful than what I could imagine. I want to dedicate this victory to my team and my family. Hadn't I had my wife Rachele and my baby girl Emma on my side, hadn't I grown up as a young cyclist with parents like mine, I'm not sure I would have made it to here. I have felt such a strong emotion very few times in my life. So I say thanks to the Tour, thanks to all the French people and thanks to everyone."
Nibali led the race for 18 of the 21 days and had four stage victories.
France's Jean-Christophe Peraud crashed during the final stage but was brought back onto his bike by some teammates and still finished in second place behind Nibali, 7 minutes, 37 seconds off the pace. France's Thibaut Pinot was third, followed by Spain's Alejandro Valverde Belmonte and American Tejay van Garderen.
Kittel had four stage wins this year and Germany had seven, a new record. He finished in a time of 3 hours, 20 minutes and 50 seconds and passed Kristoff just before the finish line. Lithuania's Ramunas Navardauskas was third, followed by Germany's Andre Greipel and Australia's Mark Renshaw.
This year's race was wide open after past champions Chris Froome and Alberto Contador and top rider Mark Cavendish were forced out due to crashes.