A year ago Lance Armstrong lined up eyeing his fourth consecutive Tour de France victory with little seemingly to stop him.
His leading rival, Jan Ullrich, failed to make the start amid injury problems and a failed drugs test after taking amphetamines in a nightclub.
Some talked of ONCE leader Joseba Beloki as a potential challenger but, when push came to shove, he never really pushed Armstrong.
Only for the briefest of times did Beloki and his ONCE team-mates appear to put Armstrong under even the remotest of pressure.
And, aside from a slight blip when the Texan was beaten by Santiago Botero in the opening time trial, the US Postal team plans went to perfection.
The major problem for the American's rivals was that they failed to work sufficiently well together over the three weeks and force him to crack.
As a result, Armstrong won by more than seven minutes from Beloki, with Raimondas Rumsas a further minute back in third.
While the race was once again all about Armstrong, there were other highlights which headed to the wire.
McEwen stole the sprint limelight in Paris
Robbie McEwen did the unthinkable by finally removing Erik Zabel's green jersey.
The German rider had won the points competition for the previous six years but the green jersey challenge went down to the wire.
As the race meandered into Paris, the two were both in position to win it but Zabel's bid fell apart as McEwen sprinted to victory on the Champs Elysees, with a wheelie to boot at the end of it.
In the other points competitions, Laurent Jalabert retired with the king of the mountains jersey in tow, while Italian Ivan Basso took the white jersey for the best young rider.
Botero's stage win aside, the other classy stage victories during the race belonged to a variety of riders.
Accusations that climber Richard Virenque was past it were disproved as he unleashed a stunning ride to win atop Mont Ventoux.
Armstrong's back-to-back mountain wins at La Mongie and Plateau de Beille were also class as was Michael Boogerd's victory at La Plagne in the latter stages of the mountains.