Floyd Landis became the third American to win the Tour de France after a celebratory final stage into Paris won by Norwegian Thor Hushovd.
Landis could afford take it easy on Sunday's final stage into Paris
Landis, 59 seconds ahead of Spaniard Oscar Pereiro beforehand, finished safely in the peloton without alarm.
Pereiro maintained his second place overall with German Andreas Kloden claiming the third place on the podium.
Robbie McEwen, with three stage wins already, hit the front with 200m left but Hushovd came through to snatch it.
Landis, 30, follows three-time winner Greg LeMond and seven-time champion Lance Armstrong into the pantheon of American Tour winners.
His 57-second winning margin was the sixth smallest in Tour history, but the margin between the top three - 1:29 - was the tightest ever, reflecting the open nature of the race in the wake of Armstrong's retirement.
Unlike Armstrong, Landis did not have a strong team behind him, and was left alone on the mountain during his now infamous collapse on the final climb of stage 16.
When things weren't going so well, my team kept on fighting and never stopped believing
But having helped the Texan to three of his Tour victories while at US Postal (now the Discovery Channel team), Landis had previously proved his climbing ability and his stunning solo victory the following day was the stuff of legend.
"I don't feel my life would have been a failure not having won the Tour but having won it, I'll be much more relaxed about it," he said.
"I'll fight to come back next year or the following year, whatever it takes, because cycling is a beautiful sport."
Standing atop the winners podium in Paris, Landis dedicated his victory to his Phonak team manager Andy Rihs.
"Most of all I want to thank my team," he said. "When things weren't going so well, they kept on fighting and never stopped believing.
"Andy is the most important guy behind this team and he must be the happiest guy today."
Sending his team-mates to the front of the peloton for most of Sunday's final stage, Landis was able to sip champagne and stay out of trouble in the main pack.
To win on the Champs-Elysees is quite extraordinary for a sprinter
Scot David Millar was among 15 riders who broke away with around 30 of the 154.5km from Sceaux-Anthony left, on the third of seven laps around the Champs-Elysees.
Fellow Briton Bradley Wiggins worked hard at the head of the peloton to close the 30-second gap, leaving Millar among seven riders left at the front with 20km to go.
But the major teams moved to the front of the peloton to put their sprinters into position before the stampede to the finish.
Hushovd, who also won the opening prologue, showed impressive finishing power, but despite missing out on a third stage win in Paris, McEwen finished in the green jersey for the third time in five years.
"To win on the first and last day is just too good and to win on the Champs-Elysees is quite extraordinary for a sprinter, " Hushovd said.
"I had been dreaming of winning this stage for a long time."
Dane Michael Rasmussen took the polka-dot jersey as King of the Mountains for a second straight year, while Italian Damiano Cunego finished as the Tour's best young rider.
Result of stage 20:
1. Thor Hushovd (Nor/C.A) 3 hours 56 mins 52 secs
2. Robbie McEwen (Aus/DVL) same time
3. Stuart O'Grady (Aus/CSC) same time
4. Erik Zabel (Ger/MRM) same time
5. Luca Paolini (Ita/LIQ) same time
6. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra/AG2R) same time
7. Bernhard Eisel (Aut/FDJ) same time
8. Anthony Geslin (Fra/BTL) same time
9. Alessandro Ballan (Ita/LAM) same time
10. Peter Wrolich (Aut/GST) same time
129. David Millar (Gbr/SDV) at 27secs
131. Bradley Wiggins (Gbr/COF) at 27 secs
1. Floyd Landis (USA/Phonak) 89 hours, 39 minutes, 30 seconds
2. Oscar Pereiro (Spa/Caisse d'Epargne) +57 seconds
3. Andreas Kloeden (Ger/T-Mobile) +1:29
4. Carlos Sastre (Spa/CSC) +3:13
5. Cadel Evans (Aus/Dav-Lotto) +5:08
6. Denis Menchov (Rus/Rabobank) +7:06
7. Cyril Dessel (Fra/AG2R) +8:41
8. Christophe Moreau (Fra/AG2R) +9:37
9. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa/Euskaltel) +12:05
10. Michael Rogers (Aus/T-Mobile) +15:07
59. David Millar (GB/Saulnier) +2 hrs 04:10
124. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Cofidis) +3hrs 25:32