Lance Armstrong sealed a seventh successive Tour de France victory amid chaotic scenes at the finish in Paris.
The Texan, riding his last-ever race, narrowly avoided a nasty crash moments before reaching the Champs Elysees.
But he survived the scare to finish safely four minutes clear of Ivan Basso overall with Jan Ullrich in third spot.
Alexandre Vinokourov savoured stage glory, while Thor Hushovd secured the green jersey and Mickael Rasmussen was crowned King of the Mountains.
But the day belonged to Armstrong, who rode into retirement with a record seventh win in cycling's most prestigious event.
The 33-year-old overcame life-threatening cancer before landing his first Tour de France victory in 1999.
And in the following years, he beat the likes of Marco Pantani, Joseba Beloki, Basso and rival-in-chief Ullrich to retain his title time and again.
Despite speculation that he might struggle to keep focused in his final year of competition, Armstrong was never troubled in 2005.
He took a minute out of Ullrich on the opening day and assumed absolute control of proceedings on stage 10 - a brutal Alpine slog to Courchevel - before signing off with a dominant time-trial win on the penultimate stage.
Sunday's traditional champagne leg to Paris threatened to turn sour when Armstrong's Discovery Team henchman George Hincapie slid off his bike on rain-swept roads.
But Armstrong managed to put out his right foot to avoid tumbling into his compatriot.
And organisers responded by taking the unusual step of stopping the race clock after the first of eight laps through the streets of Paris because of the poor weather.
This made Armstrong's victory safe and looked likely to leave the sprinters with a hair-raising dash to stage glory.
But Vinokourov - one of the most aggressive riders of the Tour - cheated the fast-finishers with a well-timed move 2km out to claim a memorable win and leapfrog Levi Leipheimer into fifth place overall.
Speaking from the podium after his farewell triumph, Armstrong paid tribute to his closest rivals and his team.
"I couldn't have done this without the team behind me - I owe them everything," said the American.
"Ullrich is a special rival and a special person and Basso is almost too good of a friend to race - he may be the future of the Tour."
Armstrong ended with an appeal to cycling's critics in an era dogged by drugs controversies.
"You should believe in these people [the cyclists]. There are no secrets.
"This is a hard Tour and hard work wins it. Vive Le Tour."
Stage 21 result:
1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz/T-Mobile) 3h 40min 57sec
2 Bradley McGee (Aus/Francaise Des Jeux)
3 Fabian Cancellara (Swi/Fassa Bortolo)
4 Robbie McEwen (Aus/Davitamon-Lotto)
5 Stuart O'Grady (Aus/Cofidis)
6 Allan Davis (Aus/Liberty)
7 Thor Hushovd (Nor/Credit Agricole)
8 Baden Cooke (Aus/Francaise Des Jeux)
9 Bernhard Eisel (Aut/Francaise Des Jeux)
10 Robert Forster (Ger/Gerolsteiner)
1. Lance Armstrong (US/Discovery) 82h 34min 05sec
2. Ivan Basso (Ita/CSC) at 4:40
3. Jan Ullrich (Ger/T-Mobile) at 6:21
4. Francisco Mancebo (Spa/Balears) at 9:59
5. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz/T-Mobile) at 11:01
6. Levi Leipheimer (US/Gerolsteiner) at 11:21
7. Mickael Rasmussen (Den/Rabobank) at 11:33
8. Cadel Evans (Aus/Lotto) at 11:55
9. Floyd Landis (US/Phonak) at 12:44
10. Oscar Pereiro (Spa/Phonak) at 16:04