Chris Froome won the Tour de France for a second time after a ceremonial final stage in Paris
Froome’s defence of the 2013 title ended with a broken hand and fractured wrist 12 months ago, but the Team Sky leader responded to win the 102nd Tour by one minute 12 seconds from Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
Andre Greipel won the 21st and final stage on the Champs-Elysees – his fourth stage success of the race – as Mark Cavendish was squeezed out of contention.
A crash in the final kilometre fractured the peloton and Froome’s Team Sky squad rolled over the line together to celebrate a third Tour title for the British squad in four years.
Froome secured the yellow jersey despite Quintana’s late attack to Alpe-d’Huez on Saturday, which left the 30-year-old Kenya-born Briton clinging on.
The 109.5-kilometres concluding stage from Sevres to the Champs-Elysees is traditionally a procession and saw Froome sip champagne and pose for photographs with his team-mates.
The only trouble Froome encountered on a memorable day was when a paper bag became caught on his bike, requiring a change, on the penultimate lap of the Champs-Elysees.
He finished well behind Greipel, whose dominance of the sprints continued, but it mattered not as Froome celebrated overall victory.
The victory is all the more satisfying given the sustained innuendo and interrogations since Froome’s dominant win at La Pierre-Saint-Martin on stage 10.
“It’s overwhelming. We’ve been up against it all,” Froome said.
“There’s been so much going on in the background, away from the race, which could’ve taken a lot of focus away from what we needed to achieve.
“It feels as if we’ve been up against everything these last three weeks and to have still come out on top, it’s unreal.
“To have won the Tour once was a dream come true. To come back and do it a second time, that’s more than I could ever have imagined.”
Froome had endured similar scrutiny in winning the 100th Tour and first since Lance Armstrong was stripped of his record seven titles two years ago.
The performance-enhancing drug use of Armstrong and his contemporaries in the EPO era created a climate of suspicion around cycling, but Froome insists he races clean and there is no evidence to the contrary.
Froome was doused in urine, spat at and “attacked from every angle” on and off the bike.
“I was aware of a few people spitting again today, but 99 per cent of the crowds are absolutely fantastic,” Froome added.
“From a British point of view, the number of flags, Union Jacks... it’s heart-warming when you go past a group of guys and they go ‘come on, get stuck in lad’. It’s really special.”
Froome has been tight-chested and had a cough since Tuesday’s second rest day, but insisted he had made no application for special medication.
He was indebted to his team-mates for his victory, with Woet Poels and Richie Porte influential on the concluding climb of Alpe-d’Huez as he limited his losses to Quintana.
“Asking me here today, that probably was the hardest climb of my career,” Froome added.
“I’ve done some pretty tough climbs in the last few years and this was definitely right up there.
“A lot of emotions going through my mind.”