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How Vincenzo Nibali conquered the Tour...

July 28, 2014 12:57 IST

How Vincenzo Nibali conquered the Tour...

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Vincenzo Nibali became the first Italian to win the Tour de France since the late Marco Pantani on Sunday, dominating his rivals on all terrains as his main rivals crashed out of a superb three-week race.

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Image: Astana team rider and leader's yellow jersey holder Vincenzo Nibali kisses his wife Rachele after winning the 137.5 km final stage of the Tour de France cycling race
Photographs: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

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Having dominated on all terrains, Nibali avoided any late dramas on Saturday in the penultimate stage, a 54-km time trial from Bergerac won by Tony Martin.

Nibali became the sixth man to win all three grand tours barring a crash since the late Marco Pantani in 1998.

"It was not an easy time trial, it required a lot of power," said Astana rider Nibali who has won four stages and has worn the yellow jersey for most of the race since snatching it on the second day in Sheffield, England.

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Image: Race leader Astana team rider Vincenzo Nibali of Italy pushes away a spectator as he cycles to win the 145.5km 18th stage of the Tour de France cycling race between Pau and Hautacam
Photographs: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

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With Chris Froome and Alberto Contador out, Nibali was a cut above the rest of the field in the mountains and he extended his lead, leaving France's Jean-Christophe Peraud and Thibaut Pinot to jostle for the second and third steps of the podium with Spain's Alejandro Valverde.

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Image: Vincenzo Nibali of Italy and the Astana Pro Team takes the podium
Photographs: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

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"I've never really thought about records or history I just take each stage of my career, step by step," said Nibali, who kissed his parents, his wife and five-month old daughter Emma Vittoria shortly after crossing the line.

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Image: Astana team rider Vincenzo Nibali of Italy crosses the finish line
Photographs: Jacky Naegelen/Reuters

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Chaos and carnage rained down on the Tour de France as defending champion Chris Froome crashed out of the race on stage five and Italian Vincenzo Nibali seized control.

On a miserable wet day in northern France, Froome did not even make it to the notorious cobbled sections as his second fall of the day, following another painful spill, led to him quitting after less than a week of his attempted defence.

The batted and bruised Briton, who fell some 70km from the finish of the 152.5-km ride from Ypres in Belgium, hobbled around in clear pain before climbing into a Team Sky car.

"Obviously it's devastating for Chris and for the team. We knew it was going to be a tough race," Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford said.

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Image: Team Sky rider Christopher Froome of Britain rides in his torn cycling costume after falling in the 5th stage of the Tour de France
Photographs: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

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Nibali become the first Italian rider to win the race since the late Pantani, the 1998 winner who died of a cocaine overdose 10 years ago.

"In spite of what happened to him, I would be very proud to succeed Pantani," Nibali told reporters in a hotel car park on the first rest day of the Tour.

"Pantani's mother had offered me one of his yellow jerseys so if I win this Tour I will bring one of my yellow jerseys to her," said Nibali.

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Image: Astana team rider Vincenzo Nibali
Photographs: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

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In driving rain on the feared cobbles of northern France, cyclists crashed off in stage five in all directions.

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Image: Garmin-Sharp team rider Andrew Talansky of the US crashes as Omega Pharma-Quick Step team rider Matteo Trentin of Italy (left,front) sprints to win the 234.5 km seventh stage of the Tour de France cycling race from Epernay to Nancy on July 11
Photographs: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

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The Italian, who is a great connoisseur of his sport's history ("I can talk to you about Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi, but also about Bernard Hinault and Louison Bobet," he says), knows that the road to Paris is treacherous.


Image: Vincenzo Nibali of Italy and Astana Pro Team poses for a picture with his team mates
Photographs: Warren Little - Velo/Getty Images

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