Floyd Landis became the third American to win the Tour de France today, crossing the finish line in Paris in the peloton just behind 20th stage winner Thor Hushovd of Norway to earn the maillot jaune

The Phonak team leader officially finished 69th in Sunday’s 96-mile ride from Sceaux-Antony to the tree-lined streets of Paris’ Champs-Elysées, but in a group of riders that crossed the line just eight seconds behind Hushovd, who became the first Norwegian to win the final stage and could be the first rider to ever win the Tour’s opening-day prologue and also claim the final stage.

Landis completed the 20-stage race in 89 hours, 39 minutes, 30 seconds with an average speed of 40.784 km/h (25.3 mph). He lost two seconds off his 59-second lead going into the final stage, beating Spain’s Oscar Pereiro by 57 seconds.

The victory gave American cyclists eight consecutive wins in the Tour de France, as Landis’ triumph comes after fellow American Lance Armstrong’s record seven straight Tour titles. Landis also joins Armstrong (1999-2005) and three-time winner Greg LeMond (’86, ’89, ’90) as the only Americans to win cycling’s most prestigious event.

Landis, who suffers from a degenerative hip condition and will undergo hip replacement surgery in the near future, won this year’s Tour after a disastrous ride in Stage 16, when he dropped from first to 11th place and found himself down by 8 minutes, 8 seconds to Pereiro. However, he came back strong the next day by winning Stage 17 and moving from 11th to third place, just 30 seconds behind Pereiro.

The Tour de France win highlights a very successful year for Landis, who also won the Tour of Georgia, the Paris-Nice race, and the Tour of California.

(Photo: Floyd Landis raises his arms in victory on the podium after winning the 93rd Tour de France. Courtesy of LeTour.fr/Photographers-Bruno Bade, Ingrid Hoffmann, Jean-Christophe Moreau.)

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