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Sunday, 23 July, 2000, 17:20 GMT 18:20 UK
Zanini's stage on Armstrong's day
Zaninbi celebration
American Fred Rodriguez cheers team-mate Zanini's win
Italian Stefano Zanini has won the final stage of the Tour de France to join American overall winner Lance Armstrong in a Paris celebration.

The Texan - who suffered from cancer less than four years ago - is the first man to hang onto cycling's greatest crown since Miguel Indurain five years ago.

Armstrong and son
Armstrong celebrated with baby son Luke
The final stage of the race was a traditional bunch sprint on the Champs Elysee in Paris.

As usual the stage featured small group breakaway attempts.

But the main pack brought the race back together and Zanini won the final surge to the line ahead of green jersey winner Erik Zabel and Romans Vainsteins.

All but six of the 128 survivors came into the last finish in the same time, including Armstrong, Zabel and King of the Mountains Santiago Botero of Columbia.


The most wonderful I have ever followed
Tour director Jean Marie Leblanc on this year's race
"It's a great day, a wonderful feeling," said Mapei's Zanini, 31, after the first Tour stage triumph of his career.

Armstrong is the second US winner of the event after three-time winner Greg LeMond.

His nearest challenger was 1997 winner Jan Ullrich of Germany by 6min 2sec.

Festina's Joseba Beloki of Spain finished third overall on his Tour debut.

Zabel and son, this year
Zabel this year: He started the family celebration trend in 1996
Armstrong's wife Kristin spoke for the rider while he was handed his final yellow jersey.

"It's just incredible. It's a great day for our family - it's just fantastic," she said.

"I can finally breathe easy. I was always afraid there might be an accident - but I was always confident, too. So was he."

The final results will only stand officially once the results of anti-doping blood tests carried out at a Paris laboratory are made known.

This year there have been no positive drugs tests in the Tour, the first clean race in some years.

Zabel, Armstrong and Botero (l-r)
The three main jersey winners arrive in Paris
But the sport's governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI) warned that "for certain products, the delay can be a month" before traces of some products show up.

Race organiser Jean-Marie Leblanc praised this year's race as "the most wonderful I have ever followed".

"This is the real renaissance for me - though that's not to say doping has come down to zero," Leblanc said.

"Clearly the peloton have taken things to heart."

Leblanc's optimism will have been dented by one final day disqualification, after Dutch rider Jeroen Blijlevens was thrown off the race for "particularly serious aggression".

The Polti sprinter, without a stage win this year, clashed at the finish with American Bobby Julich.

Blijlevens was 124th in the overall standings, allowing the riders behind him to each move up one place.

The thousands of fans included American supporters
Hours before the race reached its traditional climax on what the French call the most beautiful avenue in the world, some 11,000 amateur cyclists traced part of the course in an early morning 28.5km ride.

They were joined by former Tour legends Eddy Merckx of Belgium, Bernard Hinault of France and Spain's Miguel Indurain - all of whom won the toughest race in sport five times.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Lance Armstrong
"It was an easier Tour de France than last year"
Radio 5 Live's, Simon Brotherton
Round up of today's acheivements
David Millar
"I feel really good"
See also:

12 Jul 00 | Tour de France
21 Jul 00 | Tour de France
14 Jul 00 | Tour de France
12 Jul 00 | Tour de France
28 Jun 00 | Tour de France
21 Jul 00 | Tour de France
19 Jul 00 | Tour de France
21 Jul 00 | Tour de France
23 Jul 00 | Tour de France
23 Jul 00 | Tour de France
23 Jul 00 | Tour de France
23 Jul 00 | Tour de France
22 Jul 00 | Tour de France
23 Jul 00 | Tour de France
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