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2014 Tour de France: Kittel triumphs on Champs Élysées, Nibali wins first Tour

Marcel Kittel (Germany/Giant-Shimano) won Sunday’s final stage of the 2014 Tour de France on the Champs Élysées in Paris, on a day that saw both of Orica-GreenEdge’s Canadians on the attack. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy/Astana) confirmed his Tour victory after 19 of 21 stages in the yellow jersey.

Nibali becomes the sixth rider to win all three Grand Tours. He’s also the first Italian to wear the yellow in Paris since Marco Pantani in 1998. The Shark of Messina has completed 12 Grand Tours and never finished outside the top 20, with three victories and four other podium positions.

The day began with the inaugural La Course by Le Tour de France, a 90-km women’s race up and down the Champs Élysées. As expected, Marianne Vos (Rabobank Liv) of the Netherlands took the victory, with Canadian Leah Kirchmann (Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies), who recently swept the women’s races at the national road championships, showing her class by finishing third.

The start of the men’s race was a parade with photo opportunities, champagne and plenty of chat. Astana led the procession as the peloton’s sprinters began to dream of Parisian glory.

Once the race reached Champs Élysées with 56 km remaining, French raider supreme Sylvain Chavanel (IAM) flew away to start the hostilities. When Chavanel was snatched back, Canadian Christian Meier (Orica-GreenEdge) tried to instigate a move but it fizzled out. Jens Voigt (Germany/Trek) came whipping out of the tunnel in the lead, eliciting a roar from the crowd, as the wily vet was finishing his final Tour. Another rider long in the tooth, Chris Horner (USA/Lampre), flew off in pursuit.

Svein Tuft was the next Orica-GreenEdge Canadian to fling off the front, this time with double-stage winner Tony Martin (Germany/Omega Pharma-QuickStep). Tuft was the final rider to surrender.

Suddenly, there was an increase in dramatic urgency as second-place Jean-Christophe Peraud (France/Ag2r) crashed with 43 km remaining. He needed a gang of teammates to pace him back. Nibali, playing the role of peloton patron, also came forward in an attempt to neutralize the race.

Richie Porte (Australia/Sky) was at the centre of the next move which stayed away for more than 20 km and drew Meier out from the pack again in hopes of bridging over. Porte continued on alone in pursuit of Sky’s Plan C as the rain began to drizzle, making the cobbles treacherous.

Porte was finally lassoed just before the bell for the final 7-km lap. Tuft swung off the front and looked for his mates. The colour-blocks formed. Cannondale, Omega Pharma, Orica, Katusha, Giant-Shimano, Lotto-Belisol and Europcar were all up for it. Orica’s Simon Clarke (Australia) nosed off the front with 5 km to go, but was brought to heel within 2 km.

It was total chaos in the last 1,200 m, as a very small group split off the front. Alexander Kristoff (Norway/Katusha) took a strong lead, looking good for his 2014 Tour hat trick, but Kittel ripped up his right side for the quartet of victories. Ramunas Navardauskas (Lithuania/Garmin-Sharp), winner of Friday’s Stage 19, placed third.

2014 Tour de France Stage 21
1) Marcel Kittel (Germany/Giant-Shimano)
2) Alexander Kristoff (Norway/Katusha) s.t.
3) Ramunas Navardauskas (Lithuania/Garmin-Sharp) s.t.
142) Christian Meier (Canada/Orica-GreenEdge) +1:20
144) Svein Tuft (Canada/Orica-GreenEdge) s.t.

2014 Tour de France Final Honours and GC
Yellow Jersey: Vincenzo Nibali (Italy/Astana)
Polka Dot Jersey: Rafal Majka (Poland/Tinkoff-Saxo)
Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (Slovakia/Cannondale)
White Jersey: Thibaut Pinot (France/FDJ)
Most Aggressive: Alessandro De Marchi (Italy/Cannondale)
Team Prize: Ag2r
Red Lantern: Ji Cheng (China/Giant-Shimano)

1) Vincenzo Nibali (Italy/Astana) 89:58:46
2) Jean-Christophe Peraud (France/Ag2r) +7:37
3) Thibaut Pinot (France/FDJ) +8:15
4) Alejandro Valverde (Spain/Movistar) +9:40
5) Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) +11:24
6) Romain Bardet (France/Ag2r) +11:26
7) Leopold Konig (Czech Republic/NetApp) +14:32
8) Haimar Zubeldia (Spain/Trek) +17:57
9) Laurens Ten Dam (The Netherlands/Belkin) +18:11
10) Bauke Mollema (The Netherlands/Belkin) +21:15
121) Christian Meier (Canada/Orica-GreenEdge) +4:05:13
131) Svein Tuft (Canada/Orica-GreenEdge) +4:22:52