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TOUR DE FRANCE 2014

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‘I never imagined it could feel this good’: Nibali

Vincenzo Nibali fought back tears as he stood on the Tour de France winner's podium and described the moment as better than he ever expected.

'I never imagined it could feel this good': Nibali
Vincenzo Nibali drinks champagne on the Champs-Elysées avenue in Paris, at the end of the 137.5 km twenty-first and last stage of the 101st edition of the Tour de France. Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP

Nibali completed his victory at the 2014 Tour by finishing safely in the pack on Sunday's 21st and final stage from Evry to Paris, won by German Marcel Kittel.

"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 Elysées, it's unique," said Nibali, reading a prepared statement.

"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.

"Some people might think it's normal but I want to thank my (Astana) team because when you achieve an objective, you do so together, not just those here with me but also those back in Italy.

"It's a success that I want to dedicate to all the staff in the team and to my family, my wife Rachelle and my daughter Emma.

"If it hadn't been for my parents who have supported me since the beginning then I wouldn't have been here.

"I've never felt more emotional in my career."

After crossing the finish line, Nibali went straight up to his wife and baby to embrace both.

By winning the final stage, German sprint king Kittel matched Nibali's achievement of winning four stages on this Tour.

The Giant-Shimano sprinter thus equalled his feat from last year when he also won four stages — including both the first and last — and wore the yellow jersey for a day on stage two.

In the final sprint he initially looked to have been caught and passed by Alexander Kristoff before finding a second wind to power through and win.

Norwegian Kristoff, who won two previous stages, finished second with Lithuania's Ramunas Navardauskas, who also claimed a stage, coming third.

"It was actually my strategy for the sprint," said Kittel.

"I was meant to start not too early so when Kristoff passed me he had already had a little more time to accelerate and gain more speed.

"That was the reason why I was a bit behind him but then I could really start my sprint and accelerate and I noticed the moment when Kristoff couldn't go faster any more.

"That was the moment to pass him again. It was close, there was a moment I thought it really wasn't enough at the end but I'm super happy."

Kittel, 26, paid tribute to his lead out team who put him in the position to win with 300m left.

"It's incredible, I'm really proud of all the team. The guys worked really hard today, they put me in a perfect position," he added.

"It's been a great Tour in our team, and I don't forget my teammate (Ji Cheng) who fell, but we'll celebrate tonight."

The day's events started, as ever for the processional final stage, at a pedestrian pace as Nibali sipped champagne with his teammates and posed for photos with the other jersey winners.

Slovakian Peter Sagan won the green sprinters' points jersey for the third year in a row while young Pole Rafal Majka claimed the king of the mountains polkadot jersey.

Frenchman Thibaut Pinot won the young riders' white jersey and also finished third overall, behind compatriot Jean-Christophe Peraud.

While Ji, who crashed on the cobbles along the Champs Elysees and was even lapped as the peloton made eight circuits around the famous Parisian avenue, achieved more than just becoming the first Chinese rider to compete at and indeed finish a Tour.

He came 164th and last but also managed the largest gap between first and last since 1954, finishing 6hr 02min 24sec behind Nibali.

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PHOTOS: Italy’s most memorable medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

The Tokyo Olympics were Italy's best Games yet, with Italian athletes taking home more medals than ever before. Here are the highlights.

PHOTOS: Italy’s most memorable medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs and Gianmarco Tamberi celebrate after winning golds in the 100m sprint and high jump. Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

With ten golds, ten silvers and 20 bronzes, the Azzurri representing Italy in Tokyo were tenth on the medal table overall and top in Italian sporting history.

Previously the most medals Italy had ever won at a single Olympics was 36, which the country hadn’t equalled since the Rome Games in 1960.

READ ALSO: ‘Do Italy just win everything now?’: Celebrations after Italian athletes take Olympic gold

As well as a ceremony at the presidential palace in September, Italy’s Olympic champions will be welcomed back with prize money from the Italian National Olympic Committee: gold medalists are awarded €180,000 each, while silver medallists get €90,000 and bronze medallists get €60,000.

And then there’s the glory: after an exceptionally successful summer of Italian sport and music, Italy’s Olympic team dubbed their athletes “stupor mundi” – Latin for ‘the wonder of the world’. 

Italy’s gold medals at the 2020 Olympics

  • Men’s high jump: Gianmarco Tamberi

Italian high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi couldn’t have been happier to share the gold with his fellow competitor Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, in what was hailed as one of the most touching moments of the Games. 

Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP
  • Men’s 100m: Lamont Marcell Jacobs

Relatively unknown long jumper-turned-sprinter Lamont Marcell Jacobs was in the form of his life when he outran the favourites and hurtled to first place in the biggest race in men’s athletics. He’s the first Italian ever to qualify for the Olympic final of the event, let alone win it.

Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP
  • Men’s 4 x 100m relay 

Lorenzo Patta, Lamont Marcell Jacobs, Eseosa Desalu and Filippo Tortu pulled off an astonishing victory by the smallest of margins, with Tortu flinging himself over the finish line to snatch gold from the favourites, Great Britain, by just a hundredth of a second. It was another historic first for Italy: the country has never before won the event, and the last time an Italian team got onto the podium was at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin (silver). 

Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP
  • Men’s 20km race walk: Massimo Stano
  • Women’s 20km race walk: Antonella Palmisano

Antonella Palmisano cemented Italy’s domination of the walking competition when she followed up her teammate Massimo Stano’s gold with her own victory a day later. She actually performed slightly faster at the Rio Olympics in 2016, but that time only earned her fourth last time round.

Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP
  • Track cycling, men’s team pursuit

Italy’s four-man team set a new track cycling world record by completing 16 laps (4km) in just 3:42.032. While Great Britain had long dominated the event and Denmark were reigning World Champions, no Italian team had won it since the Rome Olympics of 1960.

Photo by Greg Baker / AFP
  • Karate, men’s kumite -75kg: Luigi Busa
  • Rowing, lightweight women’s double sculls 
Valentina Rodini (L) and Federica Cesarini (R) celebrate their win in the lightweight women’s double sculls final. Photo by Luis ACOSTA / AFP
  • Sailing, mixed multihull – Nacra 17 foiling
  • Taekwondo, Men’s -58kg: Vito Dell’Aquila

Vito Dell’Aquila won Italy its first gold of the Games, at the age of just 20. It was his first Olympics but at this rate, it won’t be his last.

Photo by Javier SORIANO / AFP

Italy’s silver medals at the 2020 Olympics

  • Artistic gymnastics, women’s floor exercise: Vanessa Ferrari

Arguably Italy’s greatest competing gymnast, 30-year-old Vanessa Ferrari proved the value of experience when she became the first Italian to win an individual Olympic medal for women’s artistic gymnastics.

Photo by Loic VENANCE / AFP
  • Men’s individual archery: Mauro Nespoli
  • Men’s kayak single 200m: Manfredi Rizza
  • Fencing, men’s foil individual: Daniele Garrozo
  • Fencing, men’s sabre individual: Luigi Samele
  • Fencing, men’s sabre team

Fencing has long been one of Italy’s strongest sports, and these Games were no exception. Altogether Italian fencers took three silvers and two bronzes in both team and individual events. 

Italy’s Luca Curatoli (L) competes against South Korea’s Gu Bongil in the men’s sabre team gold medal bout. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
  • Women’s skeet shooting: Diana Bacosi
  • Swimming, men’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay
  • Swimming, men’s 800m freestyle: Gregorio Paltrinieri 
  • Weightlifting, women’s 64kg: Giorgia Bordignon
    Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

    Italy’s bronze medals at the 2020 Olympics

    • Women’s individual archery: Lucilla Boari
    • Women’s featherweight boxing: Irma Testa

    Irma “Butterfly” Testa made history as the first Italian woman to win an Olympic medal for boxing, a victory she dedicated to all of Italy’s female boxers.

    Photo by Luis ROBAYO / POOL / AFP
    • Women’s cycling road race: Elisa Longo Borghini 
    • Track cycling, men’s omnium: Elia Viviani 
    • Men’s 10km marathon swimming: Gregorio Paltrinieri 

    Gregorio Paltrinieri is one of the best long-distance swimmers there is, holding the men’s world record for the 1500m freestyle. He comes home from Tokyo with two medals: silver in the 800m freestyle, and bronze in the gruelling 10km swim.

    Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP
    • Swimming, men’s 100m breaststroke: Nicolo Martinenghi
    • Swimming, men’s 100m butterfly: Federico Burdisso
    • Swimming, men’s 4 x 100m medley relay
    • Swimming, women’s 800m freestyle: Simona Quadarella 
    • Judo, women’s -52kg: Odette Giuffrida
    Photo by Franck FIFE / AFP
    • Judo, women’s -63kg: Maria Centracchio
    • Fencing, women’s épée team
    • Fencing, women’s foil team 
    • Karate, women’s kata: Viviana Bottaro

    Accomplished karateka Viviana Bottaro won Italy its first Olympic medal in karate, which made its debut at the Tokyo Games. 

    Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP
    • Rowing, lightweight men’s double sculls
    • Rowing, men’s four
    • Rhythmic gymnastics, group all-around

    Nicknamed le Farfalle (‘the Butterflies’), Italy’s five-woman rhythmic gymnastic team provided one of Italy’s last medal-winning performances on the final day of the Games, and one of the most spectacular.

    Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP
    • Weightlifting, men’s 67kg: Mirko Zanni 
    • Weightlifting, men’s 81kg: Antonino Pizzolato
    • Wrestling, men’s freestyle 97kg: Abraham de Jesus Conyedo Ruano 
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