Nibali wore the overall leader’s yellow jersey for all but two stages of the race after its first day. He also won four of the race’s 21 total stages, the most for a tour winner since the U.S.’s Lance Armstrong won five in 2004.
He eventually finished an impressive seven minutes and 52 seconds ahead of the race’s runner-up, the tour’s biggest margin of victory since 1997.
“It’s the most important and the best moment. I never imagined it could feel this good, because when you find yourself on this podium on the Champs Elysees, it’s unique,” the 29-year-old Nibali said.
“Now that I’m here, it’s even better than I imagined. I fought for this every day; I started building from a long way out with a winter preparation with the team, because we had decided this was our objective.”
Nibali’s main rival for this year’s race, Alberto Contador of Spain, crashed out, as did reigning champion Chris Froome of the U.K.
The Astana Pro Team leader said this year’s tour layout was “almost made to measure for me.” He also noted that crashes are part of the race, and that he’d been a victim of them on many occasions.
The Italian, who is an avid anti-doping supporter, noted that his triumphs came through focusing on the tour as the new season started and taking advantage of opportunities to attack during the race, which helped him finish so far ahead. This tour win was a result of dedication and hard work, without the kind of sensational performances seen when doping was so prevalent.Nibali dominated throughout the race, which went over the Alps and Pyrenees mountains. After crossing the finish line, the first thing he did was go straight to his wife and baby daughter to celebrate the win with his family.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev sent his congratulations to the Italian in an official statement.
“You strove for victory throughout the race stages and it allowed our team to once again demonstrate Kazakhstan’s achievements in sport,” his note read.
The head of state expressed gratitude to the Astana Pro Team cyclists and their dedication and will to win from the beginning of the tour. He wished Nibali good health, new victories and new heights in his career.