The Italian could not repeat his feat of winning every stage of the tour, as he had done in 2006, though maintained a comfortable 14 second advantage over Graeme Brown and Gerald Ciolek.
"It was much harder to win the tour this year," he said. "I had to do a lot more work, today especially."
Gerolsteiner's Heinrich Haussler took victory on the final stage between Osterode and Göttingen, edging out T-Mobile's CIolek in a sprint finish.
Movistar confirm departure of Miguel Angel Lopez
18/09/2021 AT 12:12
Petacchi's energy had been spent chasing down a group of escapees who were finally swallowed by the peloton 2000 metres from the finish.
Meanwhile, Caisse d'Epargne's Ruben Plaza took overall victory in the Vuelta a la Rioja, while Pablo Urtasun won the third and final stage in a breakaway, finishing a full three minutes ahead of the peloton.
Plaza's team were always in control throughout the final stage, a 130 kilometre trek starting and ending in Logrono, and were content only to let those escape who posed no threat in the general classification, such as Urtasun, who finished 14th overall.
Vuelta a España
'We’re humans, not machines' – Lopez says sorry for quitting
04/09/2021 AT 20:50
Vuelta a España
Lopez 'spat the dummy like a spoilt child' by quitting with 20km to go
04/09/2021 AT 19:00