Norway's Alexander Kristoff celebrates on the podium after winning the 21st and last stage of the 105th edition of the Tour de France cycling race between Houilles and Paris Champs-Elysees. Image Credit: AFP

Paris: UAE Team Emirates’ Alexander Kristoff said winning the last stage of the Tour de France on Sunday was a dream come true. The European Champion’s final surge in the sprint up the Champs-Elysees took his team to two stage wins for this year’s Tour, and 13 top 10 stage finishes. Teammate Dan Martin also finished eighth behind overall winner Geraint Thomas in the General Classification and took the award for most combative rider.

“I’ve dreamt about this victory for many years,” said Kristoff. “I’ve been close before but I’ve never managed to beat the faster guys like Greipel, Kittel and Cavendish. But today they were not here — they are out after the mountains. So today I was the fastest and I am super happy. It’s a dream come true.

“I was a bit far back after the roundabout, but I was with Roberto Ferrari who led me to the front. Then I saw that Team Trek Segafredo were giving a really good lead out and I managed to get on their wheel. I got a good start and was able to pass John (Degenkolb), but it was still far out and I had to push. Thankfully nobody managed to come close to me in the last 20 metres and I knew I would win. I am just so happy I was able to do it.”

Of finishing eighth and taking the award for combativity, Dan Martin said: “This is an amazing moment. What a magical place to be, with the Arc du Triumph in the background and the Champs Elysees in front of us. It’s all just starting to sink in now. It’s always special finishing the Tour, but even more so today. I have really enjoyed this year’s race and I’m a bit gutted it’s over. So now I am just looking forward to next year even more.

“I’m not sure if I jinxed myself before this edition by saying that my ambition was to get through without crashing and having bad luck because it happened again. That said, I race the way I race and I still think a podium is possible I just need to piece that perfect performance together. It isn’t all about bad luck, it’s about being in the right place at the right time and I think you make your own good luck a lot of the time. You learn every year you ride the Tour and I’ll take those lessons to next year because I want to end up standing on that podium on merit.”

Elsewhere, UAE Team Emirates continue their exploits on the UCI World Tour with the likes of Fabio Aru competing at the ongoing Tour of Wallonie from July 28 to August 1.