Kittel to target green jersey in future
Stage winner Germany's Marcel Kittel celebrates on the podium on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, after winning the 137.5 km twenty-first and last stage of the 101st edition of the Tour de France cycling race on July 27, 2014 - by Eric Feferberg
The burly German matched exactly his achievement form last year, winning both the opening and final stages amongst four in total, while wearing the leader's yellow jersey for a day.
And although he hadn't tried to win the sprinters' green jersey this year, allowing Peter Sagan to claim that for a third year in a row despite not winning a single stage, the 26-year-old said he would challenge for it one day.
"To think now already about the future is for me personally too much, I would like to enjoy this moment," said the Giant-Shimano rider.
"My goals won't change regarding my future, especially in the Tour de France. I'd like to go for stage wins, I'm not focussing on records.
"Also, I said many times before the green jersey can be an option for me in the future."
What the present brought, though, was one record as Kittel's fourth stage win took the total won by German riders in this Tour to a new high of seven.
Tony Martin added two, including Saturday's time trial, and Andre Greipel also won a sprint finish.
Kittel said that sent a message to German public television who pulled out of live coverage of the 2007 Tour due to doping scandals -- including that of 1997 German Tour winner Jan Ullrich -- and have not since changed their stance.
"I think that's a big signal to all fans at home in Germany and a big signal to the media, without going into too many details," said Kittel.
"Everyone can be proud of it, it's great to see so many German riders here. You can talk about the seven victories but don't forget the two second places of John Degenkolb.
"With seven plus two that's half the Tour in which Germans were in front. It shows German cycling is part of the top of the cycling world and that's awesome."
Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali was emotional after completing his victory by coming home safely in the pack.
He ended up 7min 37sec ahead of 37-year-old Frenchman Jean-Christophe Peraud in second, with Thibaut Pinot ensuring the hosts had two riders on the podium for the first time since 1984.
"It's almost a fairy tale, it's fantastic, it's incredible, I'm so emotional I can't find the words," said Nibali, who said his win helped to prove that cycling was heading in the right direction after years of doping shame.
"Not just my victory but over the last few years there have been important victories and clean victories. I think cycling has changed these last few years and we can be proud."
Peraud, who was an Olympic silver medallist in mountain biking in Beijing six years ago, was a late-comer to the road discipline.
But at 37 he proved he can still compete with the younger generation.
He even had to climb back up off the tarmac on Sunday after crashing, but at least he held back the tears, unlike after Saturday's stage when he could barely speak.
"It had already started to sink in yesterday with my tears," he said.
"I've started to realise the scale of my performance."
Referring to his crash, he added: "It's never simple with me, I never make things easy.
"I added a little handicap, a little crash. I knew something would happen after they announced the result (Saturday) before the finish (Sunday). That could never work."
Pinot, who also won the young riders' white jersey, said he had achieved more than he expected to at just 24 years of age.
"That's it, top 10 was my objective but with my legs I realised I could do more and the white came by itself," he said.
"You have to be present and it's starting to sink in on the Champs Elysees with all the people."