Vincenzo Nibali became the first Italian to win the Tour de France since Marco Pantani in 1998. Nibali first took the yellow jersey on stage two after an opportunistic stage win in Sheffield. Astana relinquished the lead to Frenchman Tony Gallopin for just one day before Nibali took it back with an impressive win at the top of La Planche des Belles Filles.
When the race hit the Alps Nibali wasted no time in cementing his lead further. He won his third stage in Chamrousse and distanced all his rivals again the following day to Risoul. In the last week much of the interest lay in whether or not a Frenchman could climb on to the final podium with four riders in the top ten. The main obstacles to Romain Bardet, Thibaut Pinot or Jean-Christophe Peraud becoming heroes in Paris were Alejandro Valverde and Tejay Van Garderen, and the 54km time trial on stage 20.