Paris, Jul 27 (EFE).- Italy's Vicenzo Nibali won the 101st edition of the Tour de France on Sunday and remarked from the winner's podium on the Champs-Elysees that he constructed his victory "stage by stage."
"This is the most important and nicest moment in my entire career. I never imagined having happiness like this," said the 29-year-old Astana team leader, visibly moved, reading from a text on the top step of the podium to the huge crowd jamming the broad Paris avenue.
Nibali - who noted that this is not the first time he had stood on the Tour winner's podium, having come in third in 2012 - said that "being on the first step is even more emotional and unbelievable."
Nibali - a Sicilian known as the "Shark of Messina" - received the winner's trophy from Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who was born in Spain, becoming the first Italian in 16 years to win the iconic race.
"I built this triumph stage by stage, since I decided that winning the Tour would be the central aim of my entire season," he said, going on to dedicate his triumph to his team, citing the organization's sports director, Giuseppe Martinelli, and manager Alexandre Vinokurov.
But he also dedicated the win to his family, especially to his wife and daughter Emma and his parents, saying, "If they would not have supported me since the beginning of my career, I would not be here."
Nibali steadily worked his way to victory after the two Tour favorites, 2013 winner Chris Froome and Spain's Alberto Contador, the winner in 2009 and 2010, suffered crashes early in this year's race and had to withdraw.
Nibali won four stages in this year's race and wore the yellow jersey for all but two stages after Stage 1. His time was 7 minutes and 37 seconds ahead of French runner-up Jean-Christophe Peraud.
Thibaut Pinot, also a Frenchman, came in third.