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Wiggins makes history with first Tour de France victory for British cyclist

July 23, 2012 -- Updated 1011 GMT (1811 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins wins Tour de France
  • Wiggins is first British rider to claim overall victory in cycling's most famous race
  • Teammate Chris Froome finishes second with Italy's Vincenzo Nibali third
  • Mark Cavendish wins 20th and final stage in Paris

(CNN) -- Bradley Wiggins made history on the Champs Elysees Sunday as he became the first British rider to win cycling's Tour de France.

And in a double triumph for Britain, his Team Sky teammate Mark Cavendish claimed the 20th and final stage in Paris for the fourth successive year.

Proudly wearing the race leader's yellow jersey, Wiggins finished safely in the bunch, pumping the air in triumph as he crossed the line after three weeks and 3,497km of racing.

The 32-year-old Londoner finished three minutes 21 seconds clear of Chris Froome to complete a one-two for Britain and Team Sky.

Italy's Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) claimed the final podium position.

Blue Sky thinking delivers historic yellow

Bradley Wiggins, left, celebrates on the finish line with teammate Michael Rogers of Australia after becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France on Sunday, July 22, in Paris. Bradley Wiggins, left, celebrates on the finish line with teammate Michael Rogers of Australia after becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France on Sunday, July 22, in Paris.
Tour de France 2012: The best photos
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Wiggins was assured of overall victory after his brilliant victory in the individual time trial Saturday, his second on this year's race.

"It's very surreal at the moment. This sort of thing happens to other people, you never imagine it happens to you," he told ITV Sport after his triumph.

"It's incredible. I bet I'll look back in years to come and think 'God, that was special'."

CNN Explains: Tour de France

Wiggins was quickly congratulated by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who said his victory was an "immense feat of physical and mental ability".

"Bradley Wiggins has scaled one of the great heights of British sporting achievement, to be the first person in 109 years to win the Tour de France.

"I think the whole country wants to say well done, brilliant -- the perfect backdrop and start to the Olympics," he told Sky News.

The final stage over 120km from Rambouillet to Paris was largely processional until hitting the finishing circuit in the French capital where the action started.

It's very surreal at the moment. This sort of thing happens to other people, you never imagine it happens to you
Bradley Wiggins

Wiggins had vowed to deliver victory to world champion Mark Cavendish and in the final kilometer he came to the front of the bunch to set the pace.

Cavendish then took it up in his trademark style to hold off green points jersey winner Peter Sagan of Slovakia and Australia's Matthew Goss.

It was his third stage win of this year's Tour de France and sixth for Team Sky.

Wiggins and Cavendish will now turn their attentions to the London Olympics, which start later this week.

Cavendish is favorite for the men's road race next Saturday, where he will again look for Wiggins for support.

Wiggins is targeting the individual time trial later in the Games for his tilt at a fourth Olympic gold medal.

In anticipation of a triumph for Wiggins, thousands of jubilant British fans watched the action unfold on the Champs Elysees, waving Union Jack flags as he stood on the podium to receive the yellow jersey for the final time.

Wiggins had been in the most famous outfit in cycling for 13 days after seizing control of the race at the end of the first week.

With superb support from his teammates, and in particular Kenyan-born Froome, he tightened his grip on the overall classification as defending champion Cadel Evans of Australia fell by the wayside.

Nibali offered the strongest challenge to the British duo, but he eventually finished over six minutes adrift of Wiggins.

Thomas Voeckler gave the home nation some cheer by claiming the polka dot King of the Mountains jersey while Tejay Van Garderen of the United States finished fifth overall, two places ahead of BMC teammate Evans, to win the white jersey for best rider under 25.

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