Nibali finishes job to win Tour de France
PARIS — Vincenzo Nibali on Sunday became the first Italian to win the Tour de France since the late Marco Pantani, dominating his rivals on all terrains during the three-week race.
While Italy celebrated its seventh Tour winner, France hailed its first double podium finish in 30 years as veteran Jean-Christophe Peraud and youngster Thibaut Pinot took second and third respectively.
“We are very happy today. It’s a beautiful victory. Congratulations to the whole team,” said Nibali’s Astana team manager Alexandre Vinokourov.
Nibali beat Peraud by seven minutes, 37 seconds and Pinot by 8:15 to become the sixth man to win all three grand tours after Belgian Eddy Merckx, Frenchmen Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, Italian Felice Gimondi and Spaniard Alberto Contador.
Sunday, Nibali finished safely in a pack behind Germany’s Marcel Kittel, who produced a burst of speed to claim the final stage, his fourth stage win of the Tour. Nibali began the day with an eight-minute lead and needed to avoid a last-day crash to complete the victory.
Contador, who was hoping to add to his two Tour titles, crashed out in the 10th stage, riding 9.3 miles with a broken shinbone before pulling out.
Last year’s winner, Chris Froome, packed his bags after a crash on the cobbles in the fifth stage, the day Nibali opened a big gap over all his main rivals with a scintillating display on the treacherous lanes of northern France.
“I was ready to take them on. And crashes are part of the race,” Nibali replied when asked if Froome and Contador’s exits would undermine his title.
Nicknamed ‘The Shark of Messina’, Nibali stayed true to his aggressive self by attacking repeatedly on the big climbs.