He bantered with fellow riders, including Schleck, enjoyed a glass of champagne, and soaked up the roadside atmosphere as the peloton rolled along the 63.7-mile stage towards the Champs-Élysées.
After the race, he put on the winner's yellow jersey atop the podium and smiled widely.
“I'm very happy,” he said. “I've had difficult days from a psychological and a physical point of view.”
That’s where Contador took the lead from Schleck, in a somewhat controversial breakaway after Schleck had a mechanical problem during Stage 15 in Ax-3 Domaines.
Despite a challenge from Schleck in Saturday’s individual time trial, Contador held on for the win.
“I was scared that I might not beat Andy in the time trial,” Contador said in a press conference Saturday night. “But I kept very focused and held it together.”
The 39-second win was the fifth smallest margin in Tour history and just the eighth time that the 107-year old race has been won by less than a minute.
But Contador is used to cutting it close — he beat Cadel Evans by just 23 seconds for his first title in 2007.