No one is happier than Miguel Indurain that the Tour de France is over.
Indurain won his third consecutive Tour title by his largest margin yet - almost five minutes - and was never threatened after he took over the lead in the ninth stage almost two weeks ago."I was the No. 1 favorite, but the pressure was enormous and it is not always easy," Indurain said. "But I was perfectly prepared for this year and hope to be in the same kind of form next year."
Indurain completed a 2,312-mile loop around France in less than 96 hours, averaging almost 24 mph.
In 1991, the Spaniard won by 31/2 minutes and last year by 41/2. This time, it was 4:59 over Switzerland's Tony Rominger, the only rider to beat Indurain in a long time trial in almost three years.
Rominger was 42 seconds ahead of Indurain in the 19th stage the day before the Tour ended. But Indurain had wrapped up the title by then and might have done better if the title was on the line.
Zenon Jaskula of Poland was third overall, almost six minutes back.
At Indurain's home town in Villava, the town's best known bar, Jaizki, was filled with Spaniards. Most of the celebrants, however, were from other towns because many of the locals left earlier for Paris on special trains.
On the main street in Paris, Indurain was welcomed with Spanish flags as he rode the final miles in a pack while others battled for the individual stage victory.
Djamolidine Abdoujaparov of Uzbekistan won his third individual stage with a furious sprint.
Indurain was always looming near the leaders of the stages in the mountains as the race went through the Alps and the Pyrenees.
Indurain joins three other riders with three Tour de France victories.
Greg LeMond of the United States won in 1986, 1989 and 1990 and did not participate in 1987 and 1988. French rider Philippe Thys has also won three, along with Louison Bobet.
Ahead of Indurain are Eddie Merckx, Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, all with five titles.