5 things to know about Tour de France

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Peter Sagan won the green jersey so easily it must have made rival Mark Cavendish jealous.

After all, he had it on his back for most of the Tour, successfully defending his title as best sprinter.

The 23-year-old succeeded Cavendish last year and finished 97 points ahead of the British rider this time.

The charismatic Slovak, who even treated fans to a wheelie and a salute before tackling one of hardest climbs of the Tour, celebrated his easy win by riding the stage with his beard colored green. Although he did scrub it clean before climbing onto the podium.

Sagan only won one stage but was so consistent that he collected 409 points.

German rider Marcel Kittel won four stages - including the showcase final sprint on the Champs-Elysees - and showed the cycling world that there is finally someone to match Cavendish for pure acceleration.

''I am really very proud,'' Kittel said. ''My dream has become reality.''

But Kittel needs more consistency. He finished the green jersey contest in fourth place - a massive 187 points behind Sagan.

It was a great Tour for Germans, with sprinter Andre Greipel and two-time defending time trial world champion Tony Martin also winning stages. Greipel finished second on Sunday, just beating Cavendish at the line.


QUINTARA'S RAPID CLIMB TO SUCCESS - Colombian Nairo Quintana did not take long to make his mark at the Tour.

As soon as the race hit the high climbs of the Pyrenees on Stages 8 and 9, he attacked Froome like no other rider has dared. On stage 8 he rode away early on before being caught up and on stage 9's final climb he tried to drop Froome four times. To no avail.

The 23-year-old was a fitting winner of the best climber's polka dot, red-and-white jersey.

Froome had looked certain to win the polka dot, but Quintana launched one of his trademark accelerations and this time managed to beat Froome to the line to win Saturday's 20th stage.

It earned him two race jerseys - the best climber as he moved up from fourth to first in that classification, and the white jersey given to the best young rider.

The Movistar rider also moved up to second overall, ousting two-time Tour champion Alberto Contador - who was once the most feared climber in the peloton.


THE KIDS ARE ALL WHITE - Quintana doubled his delight by also wrapping up the white jersey awarded to the best young rider on the Tour.

The Colombian had already solidified his lock on that jersey in Stage 15, when he wrested it from Poland's Michal Kwiatkowski as he scaled the legendary Mont Ventoux.

But because Quintana can't wear two jerseys at the same time - if only because he'd have been much hotter in the sweltering Sunday heat in Paris - 24-year-old American Andrew Talansky got the honor of wearing the white jersey for the ride on the Champs-Elysees. Talansky finished second in the white jersey contest and 10th overall on his debut Tour.

Garmin-Sharp rider Talansky picks up from countryman Tejay van Garderen, who took home the white shirt a year ago, but had a disappointing Tour this year - finishing 44th.


IS THIS LE TOUR OR IL GIRO? - Veteran British rider David Millar compared the last week of the 100th Tour de France to the Giro d'Italia because it was so hard.

The Giro has often tougher mountain stages than the Tour, but this year the final week of the Tour featured three consecutive climbing days in the Alps. L'Alpe d'Huez was ascended twice in one day and the Col de la Madeleine was among the other monstrously hard treks.

Stage 19 on Friday had four enormous ascents, including back-to-back HC climbs. HC is ''Hors Categorie,'' which meaning they are so tough they are beyond classification.

''It was more like the Giro with the final week of mountains, which is just the way the sport's going. The course is getting harder and harder, more and more climb orientated,'' Millar told The Associated Press. ''I think the human body can only do so much.

''You would have had a better race if you'd had it shorter. Because it turned into a death march, there's maybe only 5 percent that can race at the end of those days and teams can't provoke action earlier on, because the human body just can't go that far. The human body's limited.''

The 36-year-old Millar, riding in his 12th Tour, has a solution to make it more bearable for the riders without taking away from the show.

''I'm a big advocate of shortening mountain stages,'' he said.


MARTIN MISSES OUT - Dan Martin will always remember the 100th Tour with a tinge of regret.

When Martin woke up on the morning of Thursday's 18th stage - the first of three climbing stages in the Alps - he had a coughing fit and felt sick.

''Unfortunate situation,'' is the way Martin summed it up. ''Coming into the final week I still felt good and I was really optimistic about what I could have done.''

It was the first of three days of grueling tough treks in the high Alps, featuring two ascents up L'Alpe d'Huez, and the Irishman was confident.

''I think without getting sick I think I would definitely have been in the top 10 this year,'' Martin told AP. ''I survived all the stages that didn't suit me and then once the days that suited me came up I was too sick to compete.''

Martin won stage 9 from Saint-Girons to Bagneres-de-Bigorre in the high mountains of the Pyrenees. But he was affected by his illness and finished 33rd overall, more than one hour behind race winner Chris Froome.

He wonders what might have been.

''It's given me a lot of belief. I now know that I can be in the top 10, top five and maybe even the podium in the future,'' he said. ''Now I know I can be competitive over three weeks.''


Associated Press writer Jamey Keaten contributed to this report.

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