Carlos Sastre revealed his delight at finally getting his hands on the prestigious Tour de France title after clinching overall victory following the last-stage ceremonial trek into Paris.
The Spaniard had finished fourth and third in the previous two Tours, but got it right this time round to add another accolade to his Vuelta a Espana success three years ago.
The 33-year-old has gone from team player to team leader in the space of a few years and has now lived up to the hype.
“After my Vuelta victory in 2005 I thought I could one day win the Tour,” said the Team CSC rider.
“I had to fight for it, get experience, and finally I have done it. It’s a boyhood dream come true, I have been waiting so long for this. Ever since I was little I’ve been thinking about this moment.”
Sastre all but clinched the title on Saturday, when a tremendous time trial allowed him to stave off the threat of his closest challengers.
He went into yesterday 65 seconds up on Australia’s Cadel Evans and with the final stage little more than a procession into the French capital, his lead was never going to be threatened.
Sastre ended up winning by 58secs overall, losing ground towards the end of a stage won by Quick Step’s Gert Steegmans in a sprint finish.
Evans finished runner-up overall – for the second successive year – and Bernard Kohl was third, a further 15secs in arrears.
Austria’s Kohl, who rides for Gerolsteiner, added a King of the Mountains jersey to his podium finish and he was also thrilled with his performance over the past three weeks.
“It is a dream to arrive into Paris wearing the King of the Mountains jersey,” he said.
“I could never dream such a scenario. I have watched the Tour on television for a long time, and the podium on the Champs-Elysees, and I never thought I would be on it one day.”
As for Steegmans, it was his second stage win on the Tour but his and his team’s first this year.
Quick Step left it late to make their mark and the Belgian admitted the superb form of British sprint ace Mark Cavendish, who won four stages this year, did not help his quest.
He said: “Several details have prevented the team from winning, the main one being Mark Cavendish. I have waited for a long time. It took the team a while but it finally came. The team have always given their all for me and to win the last stage is magnificent.”
Meanwhile, Dimitry Fofonov has been fired by the Credit Agricole team after testing positive for heptaminol during the race.
The Kazakh rider produced a positive A sample following the 18th stage from Bourg d’Oisans to St Etienne, which was won by Marcus Burghardt.
Fofonov’s failed test was confirmed by race organisers shortly after Sastre claimed overall victory.
Credit Agricole, the French bank which sponsors Fofonov’s former team, had announced prior to the Tour that they were ending their sponsorship at the end of 2008.
The team won two stages of the Tour through Thor Hushovd and Simon Gerrans.
Fofonov was the fourth rider to test positive for a banned substance on the 2008 Tour after Manuel Beltran, Moises Duenas Nevado and Riccardo Ricco, who all were found guilty of EPO use.