Seven-time winner Lance Armstrong saluted fellow American Floyd Landis after he succeeded him as Tour de France champion.
Armstrong's retirement left the Tour wide open
Landis was a key part of Armstrong's US Postal (now Discovery Channel) team for three years before moving to Phonak.
"I'm proud and happy for Floyd," said Armstrong, who watched the finish on TV from his hotel near the Champs-Elysees.
"He proved he was the strongest, everybody wrote him off. I'm very proud that an American has won again."
Armstrong joined his Discovery Channel team, of which he is a part-owner, at the beginning of last week before the Alpine stages.
And Armstrong said he would be happy to welcome Landis back into the team.
I kept fighting, never stopped believing
"We've always been interested in Floyd, he's a damn good rider," Armstrong said. "We would take Floyd back. We have pursued him for some time now."
Despite Armstrong's all-time record of seven consecutive wins, Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc hailed Landis' ride as "the best performance in the modern history of the Tour".
Landis' Tour hinged on three remarkable days in the Alps last week.
In Tuesday's stage 15, he reclaimed the leader's yellow jersey despite a relatively conservative ride up the infamous Alpe d'Huez.
But on the following day he suffered a spectacular collapse on the final climb up to La Toussuire, in which he lost 10 minutes to his rivals in the final 10km.
Landis celebrates his victory on the podium in Paris
He blamed that on what cyclists call "bonking" - failing to eat enough during the stage to keep up energy levels.
And on the following day he clawed back all but 30 seconds of that lost time with a remarkable solo break, leading for 120 of the 200km to Morzine to evoke memories of Eddy Merckx, arguably the Tour's greatest ever winner.
"I kept fighting," Landis said, "never stopped believing."
Discovery's highest finisher in Armstrong's absence was Portuguese Jose Azevedo, 19th in the overall classification, 38 minutes adrift of Landis.
Veteran Discovery rider Vyatcheslav Ekimov, the oldest man in the race at 40, announced during the final stage that his 15th Tour - the second most of any rider - would be his last.
"I wish to do more - but I think it's pretty much done," said the Russian.
"I've never had a feeling like I had today. It's a super hard race; you can't compare it with anything else can compare.
"If you want to consider yourself a professional rider you should finish it at least once."