SAN DIEGO, July 27, 2014 – Former mountain biker Vicenzo Nibali was finally able to exhale on the podium in Paris as the winner of the 2014 Tour de France. Nibali enjoyed the largely ceremonial ride into Paris with Team Astana, enjoying their glasses of champagne.
Nibali’s victory completes a sweep of the Grand Tours, having also won the Giro d’Italia and last year’s Vuelta a Espana. Although top rivals Chris Froome of Sky Racing and Alberto Contador of Tinkoff-Saxo left the race due to injuries, Nibali’s performance was so strong it’s doubtful whether either could have challenged Nibali for the win. Take nothing away from the 37-year-old Italian’s accomplishment.
“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-Elysées,” said Nibali. 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 mines, 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.”
But it wasn’t an entirely routine ride. Second place rider Jean-Christophe Peraud had a nasty fall when his wheel slipped on a crosswalk paint stripe. He hit the ground hard. His AG2R teammates came back to help him rejoin the peloton, and the race slowed down a little to allow him to catch up. Peraud had just a 32 second margin over Thibaut Pinot in third place, so he not only had to get up and finish the race, he had to do it without losing time.
The sprinters had their fun in Paris, and the race ended as it began with German Marcel Kittel of Garmin-Sharp edging out Alexander Kristoff of Katusha for the sprint victory. It made for seven stage wins for German riders, an excellent result.
The final jersey winners were Rafal Majka of Tinkoff-Saxo wearing polka dots as King of the Mountains; Peter Sagan of Cannondale is the green jersey winner as sprint champion; Thibaud Pinot of FDJ wears the white jersey as the best young rider. Alessandro DeMarchi of Cannondale was named the most aggressive rider of the Tour. Team AG2R Mondiale won the team competition, a positive development for the future of French cycling.
German cyclist Jens Voight of Trek Factory Racing led a lap in Paris, a farewell to the Tour after riding in 17 Tours. He will retire just before turning 43 years old as one of the most popular Tour participants ever. American Chris Horner of Team Lampre, also age 42, finished in 17th place. He doesn’t seem to have any intention of retiring just yet.
One hundred and sixty four riders finished the 2014 Tour out of 198 who started. The first Chinese cyclist to compete, Ji Chang of Giant-Shimano, finished last and receives the Red Lantern as a result. It isn’t intended as a joke. It’s intended to honor the rider who makes it all the way through this grueling race despite having nothing in it other than the satisfaction of the accomplishment itself.
It is Voight who calls the Tour “a beautiful adventure.” After 2,232 miles of racing, 90 hours on the roads from Sheffield, England to the Alps to the Pyrenees, the Tour de France remains one of the world’s greatest athletic competitions. The combination of athletic excellence, gorgeous scenery, and the enthusiasm of the fans can’t be beat. Vive Le Tour!
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Follow the Tour de France daily in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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