PARIS -- For tens of thousands of Spaniards, the Champs-Elysees was the staging area for a fiesta yesterday, and for the fifth successive year, the master of the revelry was Miguel Indurain.
As his fans danced, sang, cheered, chanted and applauded, he cruised eight times up and down the broad avenue in the heart of Paris as the easy winner of the 82nd Tour de France.
At least the 31-year-old Spaniard, who rides for the Banesto team, made it look easy with his record victory. Three other riders, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault, also won the Tour a record five times. But Indurain is the first to win it five consecutive years.
"Him again," joked Capitaine J. N. Pastori, the leader of the Band of the 8th Broadcasting Regiment.
Pastori stood on a platform across from the finish line and prepared to break into the Spanish national anthem once Indurain mounted the final victory podium.
"Every year the same song," the captain said playfully. "By now, we don't have to spend much time practicing it."
If it's getting old for the boys in the band, think of Indurain's rivals. Although his winning margin of 4 minutes, 35 seconds in total elapsed time is tied for second smallest in his reign, the result was not really in doubt for the last two weeks of the 22-day race.
From the July 1 start in Brittany, nearly to yesterday's finish in Paris, over 3,635 kilometers (2,270 miles) of plains, hills and mountains, Indurain was dominant.
Not yesterday, though. As usual, Indurain rode across the final line in the middle of the 115-man pack, letting others contest the stage. Indurain is neither greedy nor dumb.
The winner, in a mass sprint after 96 miles from Ste. Genevieve des Bois to Paris was Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, an Uzbek who rides for the Novell team. After eight circuits of the Champs-Elysees, he crossed the line half a bicycle wheel ahead of Gian Matteo Fagnini, an Italian with Mercatone Uno.
They joined the rest of the riders in spending most of the time on the Champs-Elysees chasing a five-man breakaway that got away early and opened a lead of 30 seconds.
The stage marked 20 years that the Tour has been finishing on the Champs-Elysees. Before then, it ended at the Cipale track in the Bois de Vincennes and was witnessed by much smaller crowds.
Frenchmen often won in the early days on the avenue, unlike now. Not since 1985 has the Band of the 8th Broadcasting Regiment played "La Marseillaise" because a Frenchman finished first. Not since 1989 has a Frenchman even stood on the three-step final podium.
(the 20th and final stage -- a 96-mile race from Ste. Genevieve des Bois to Paris)
1. Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, Novell, 3 hours, 39 minutes, 46 seconds; 2. Gian Matteo Fagnini, Mercatone, same time; 3. Giovanni Lombardi, Polti, same time; 4. Laurent Jalabert, ONCE, same time; 5. Maximilian Sciandri, MG, same time; 6. Erik Zabel, Telekom, same time; 7. Stefano Colage, ZG, same time; 8. Johan Museeuw, Mapei, same time; 9. Giovanni Fidanza, Polti, same time; 10. Frankie Andreu, Motorola, same time.
11. Andrea Ferrigato, ZG, same time; 12. Jesper Skibby, TVM, same time; 13. Bo Hamburger, TVM, same time; 14. Gianluca Gorini, Aki, same time; 15. Francois Simon, France Castorama, same time.
27. Stephen Swart, Motorola, same time; 30, Alvaro Mejia, Motorola, same time; 43. Steve Bauer, Motorola, same time; 60. Andrea Peron, Motorola, same time; 80. Lance Armstrong, Motorola, same time.
(After 20 stages)
1. Miguel Indurain, Banesto, 92 hours, 44 minutes, 59 seconds; 2. Alex Zulle, ONCE, 4 minutes, 35 seconds behind; 3. Bjarne Riis, Gewiss, 6:47; 4. Jalabert, 8:24; 5. Ivan Gotti, Gewiss, 11:33; 6. Melchor Mauri, ONCE, 15:20; 7. Fernado Escartin, Mapei, 15:49; 8. Tony Rominger, Mapei, 16:46; 9. Richard Virenque, Festina, 17:31; 10. Hernan Buenahora, Kelme, 18:51.
11. Claudio Chiappucci, Carrera, 18:55; 12. Laurent Madouas, Castorama, 20:37; 13. Marco Pantani, Carrera, 26:20; 14. Paolo Lanfranchi, Brescialat, 29:41; 15. Bruno Cenghialta, Gewiss, 29:55.
16. Mejia, 33:40; 36. Armstrong, 1:28:06; 44. Peron, 1:42:18; 82. Andreu, 2:52:15; 101. Bauer, 3:05:33; 109. Swart, 3:14:15.