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Britain's Chris Froome Repeats as Tour De France Champion

2016 Tour de France winner Chris Froome of Britain celebrates on the podium after the twenty-first and last stage of the Tour de France cycling race in Paris, France, Sunday, July 24, 2016.

British cyclist Chris Froome successfully defended his Tour de France title on Sunday, and has now won the multi-stage race three times in the past four years.

The Kenyan-born Froome held a lead of more than four minutes over Frenchman Romain Bardet heading into the 21st and final - largely ceremonial - stage in Paris. He pedaled across the finish line side-by-side and arm-in-arm with his Sky teammates. They finished in the back section of the peloton in which 169 riders were all credited with the same time behind stage winner Andre Greipel of Germany.

The cyclists covered the 113 kilometers, starting in Chantilly, with the traditional ending on the Champs Elysees after nine laps around the center of Paris in two hours, 43 minutes, eight seconds. Greipel edged world champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia at the line in a sprint finish. Norway's Alexander Kristoff was third on Sunday.

The 31-year-old Froome's total time for the three-week tour was nearly 90 hours. Bardet was runner-up, 4:05 behind, and Colombian Nairo Quintana was third, 4:21 in back of Froome.

"It's like the first time. It's amazing. Every time it's special," said Froome.

During the trophy ceremony he spoke to the crowd in French, saying, "Thanks for your kindness in these difficult times. You have the most beautiful race in the world. Viva le Tour. Vive le France."

Froome rode a special yellow bike to match his yellow leader's jersey, helmet, gloves and shoes. His teammates, rather than their usual blue stripes on their jerseys, had yellow stripes on Sunday, as well as yellow handle bars.

Knowing he had such a comfortable lead riding at the start of the final stage, Froome shared both beer and champagne with his teammates.

During his wins in 2013 and last year, Froome achieved his victories with aggressive attacks in the mountain stages. This month, he won by surprising his rivals on the downhill and flat sections.

Froome cut both his elbow and right knee in a crash on a downhill section in Friday's stage. That seemed to gain him some sympathy from the French crowd.

British cyclists have now won four of the last five Tours, as Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the race in 2012.

Froome has vowed he will return to France to try for another win and perhaps take part in the prestigious event five or six more times.