PARIS, July 29 (Xinhua) -- Team Sky rider Geraint Thomas of Britain claimed his first overall title at the Tour de France as the 105th edition of the world's most prestigious road cycling tournament finished here on Sunday.
The 32-year-old Thomas effectively sealed his win following Saturday's individual time trial as the 116km final stage, starting from Houilles, included a mostly ceremonial ride through the iconic Champs-Elysees Avenue in the French capital. Thomas, along with teammates, was seen enjoying glasses of champagne early in the stage.
Norwegian Alexander Kristoff powered to victory on the 21st stage after holding off John Degenkolb and Arnaud Demare. It was Team Sky's sixth win in the past seven years, following those of Bradley Wiggins in 2012, and Chris Froome in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017.
As a support rider for Froome early in the race, Thomas wore the yellow jersey, representing the top rider in the general classification, after winning stage 11 in the Alps. He led Dutch time trial specialist Tom Dumoulin by 1 minute and 51 seconds.
Froome saw his title defense hopes fade away after cracking through the Pyrenees, but managed to finish on podium, 2 minutes and 24 seconds away from Thomas. "Big respect to Froomey," Thomas said as he turned to Froome on the podium. "You are a great champion, and I always have respect for you. Thanks a lot. I just want to say thanks to the team. The whole team is incredible, and the staff as well," he added.
After expressing his gratitude to all supporters, Thomas concluded his winner's speech by dropping the microphone. Growing up in Cardiff, Wales, Thomas helped Britain win back-to-back Olympic gold medals in team pursuit in 2008 and 2012, before focusing on road cycling races.
He was the youngest rider to start the 2007 Tour de France in his debut. Last year, he wore the yellow jersey following an opening stage victory, but he was forced to withdraw from the race after suffering a collarbone fracture.
"I got into cycling because of this race. I remember running home from school to watch the Tour de France. The dream was always to be a part of it. That came true back in 2007. Now I'm here in the yellow jersey. It's insane. It's incredible," said Thomas.
Already having decided to retire at the end of the season, French veteran rider Sylvain Chavanel did a lap of honor in his 18th and last Tour de France, before six riders formed a breakaway group. Yves Lampaert was the last member in the group to be reeled off with 220m remaining, only to see Kristoff's victory.
Slovakian rider Peter Sagan wore the sprinting green jersey for a record-equaling sixth time with 477 points, while the polka dot jersey, representing the best climber, belonged to Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe, who notched 170 points. Another local favorite Pierre-Roger Latour became the best young rider.
Movistar sit atop the overall team standings. 145 of 176 starting riders finished the 23-day race, with several prominent names such as Vincenzo Nibali, Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel bidding early farewells, either due to injuries or failing to make the time cut.