Vincenzo Nibali put his lungs and legs to work one last time, marching up to the winner’s podium of the Tour de France and sighing deeply before the Italian anthem echoed over the Champs-Elysees.
“Now that I find myself on the highest step on the Champs-Elysees podium, it’s more beautiful than I ever imagined,” Nibali, the Arc de Triomphe behind him, told the crowd. “I’ve never been this moved in all my life.”
Nibali, who calls himself “a flag-bearer of anti-doping,” is the sixth rider to win all three Grand Tours — France, Italy and Spain.
"I think it’s very important for cycling in Italy because at the moment there isn’t a lot of trust,” said spectator Massimo Solaroli, a 47-year-old physical education teacher from the Italian town of Imola. “We don’t believe an Italian champion can win an important race without doping.”