American cyclist Lance Armstrong rode into history on Sunday by winning the Tour de France for a record sixth time, an achievement that confirmed the victory-hungry, cancer survivor as one of the greatest sportsmen of all time.
His sixth crown elevated Armstrong above four great five-time champions.
And never in its 101-year-old history has the Tour had a winner like the Texan who just eight years ago was given less than a 50 percent chance of conquering a deadly form of testicular cancer that spread to his lungs and brain.
Armstrong's winning margin over second-placed Andreas Kloden was 6 minutes and 19 seconds, with Italian Ivan Basso third on 6:40.
Jan Ullrich, the 1997 Tour winner and five-time runner-up, was fourth, 8:50 adrift.
Armstrong's average speed over the 3,391.1 kilometres (2,102.5 miles) raced was 40.533 kilometres per hour (25.13 miles per hour), second only to last year.
Australian Robbie McEwen won the green jersey, his second, as the Tour's best sprinter.
Armstrong, right hand over his heart, then stood with Kloden and Basso on the podium as the Star Spangled Banner rang out over the Champs-Elysees.
Armstrong, recovered from the cancer diagnosed in 1996, opened a new page for the Tour in 1999 just one year after the race faced its worst doping scandal, ejecting the Festina team after police caught one of its employees with a stash of drugs.
Armstrong's victories and his inspiring comeback from cancer have drawn new fans to the race.
Armstrong's performance this year silenced doubts that, at age 32, he was past his prime.
Even more so than in other Tours that he dominated, Armstrong finished off rivals in the mountains - with three victories in the Alps, including a time trial on the legendary climb to L'Alpe d'Huez, and another in the Pyrenees.
He also took the final time trial on Saturday, even though his overall lead was so big at that point that he didn't need the win.
But Armstrong's race was not without distractions and claims that his success is aided by drugs.
The Texan has repeatedly denied such accusations, attributing his wins to hard training, and says that claims of drug-use only fuel his motivation.
Armstrong still hasn't decided whether he will return next year to compete in the race he loves most, for which he trains relentlessly, leaving his three children in Texas, with his former wife Kristin, while he pounds the roads in Europe.