(CNN)As Oscar Pereiro crossed the line for the last time in the 2006 Tour de France, there was no celebration, no adulation from the crowd.
He had won Le Tour, except he — and everybody else — just didn’t know it yet.Follow @cnnsport Instead, the yellow jersey, champagne and flowers that day went to American Floyd Landis, who wrestled the race lead back from Pereiro on the penultimate stage after an engrossing back and forth.However, once the Tour was over, one of Landis’ urine sample “A” tests from the race came back positive for an unusually high level of testosterone.Pereiro initially said he had “too much respect” for his opponent to consider him a cheat after the American’s first positive test. Read MoreWhen Landis’ “B” sample also came back positive, he was eventually stripped of his 2006 Tour de France win and the title was awarded to the then runner-up, Pereiro.Landis, the first Tour de France winner stripped of the title, initially maintained his innocence but later admitted to doping and accused others, including Lance Armstrong, of doing the same.READ: ‘A man with no platform is a lost man,’ says Lance ArmstrongREAD: Miguel Indurain — The cyclist ‘from another planet’READ: The changing colors of La Vuelta’s leader’s jerseyThe Spaniard now holds no resentment towards the past, but admits the victory feels somewhat bittersweet after the way events unfolded.”A lot of time has passed,” he tells CNN, now sounding somewhat philosophical. “The answer is always the same: sadness for not having been able to enjoy it at the time.”But at the end of the day, look, things come as they come and one needs to remember the moments you had on the bike. Everything that happened with Floyd’s positive test came after.”You can’t look back anymore, I would have liked things to be different but, in the end, the only thing you can think is that life is like that, things happen as they do and thinking about it won’t change it.”I feel like a Tour de France winner exactly like any other winner.”‘We lost all of that’Pereiro describes any cyclist’s efforts on a bike as “50% mental and 50% physical.”For the winner of the Tour de France, considered by many one of the toughest athletes on the planet, those efforts are rewarded with a celebratory final stage.Champagne is often served by team leaders and, with the overall classification sewn up, the rider in the yellow jersey can enjoy the final day, crossing the line on the iconic Champs-Élysées.Pereiro, despite being denied that special day, is more than content with how his career panned out.”It gave me a lot of sadness because when I see the victories of riders who win Le Tour, that day is very special,” he explains. “Not only for you, but for your team, your family. We lost all of that.READ: Tour de France — The legend of the yellow jerseyREAD: Tour de France — The mystery behind having ‘good legs’“But over time you realize it’s not worth it to keep thinking about the past because you can’t change it. “So for me, what’s important today is being recognized as the winner, the people that call me to work and the people that still follow me and say, ‘what a great career you had.'” Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosAgainst the backdrop of the Arc de Triomphe, Britain’s Chris Froome rides to his fourth Tour de France win.Hide Caption 1 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosFroome toasts a member of his team during the last stage of the Tour de France race.Hide Caption 2 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photos”Each time I’ve won the Tour it’s been so unique, so different, such a different battle to get to this moment,” said Froome.Hide Caption 3 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photos”This year I think will be remembered for certainly being the closest and most hard-fought battle,” added Froom. The Briton controlled much of the Tour but on stage 12 Italy’s Fabio Aru did take hold of the yelllow jersey.Hide Caption 4 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosMarcel Kittel of Germany and the Quick-Step Floors team celebrates his victory in stage two of the 2017 Tour de France, a 203.5 kilometer ride from Dusseldorf to Liege. With five stage wins already this year, the 29-year-old is just two away from breaking into the top 10 riders with most stage wins in history.Hide Caption 5 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosFrance’s Thomas Boudat rides in the rain in a breakaway during the second stage of the 104th edition of the Tour de France.Hide Caption 6 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosGreat Britain’s Geraint Thomas (C) wearing the overall leader’s yellow jersey rides in the pack past supporters during the 212,5 km third stage. The Welshman won the leader’s jersey after victory in the first stage and held onto it until the fifth, when teammate Chris Froome surged into the overall lead. However, Thomas had to withdraw from the race after breaking his collarbone on the tough Col de la Biche descent on stage nine.Hide Caption 7 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosPeter Sagan (2-L) of Slovakia flicks his elbow towards Team Dimension Data rider Mark Cavendish (L) during the final sprint of the fourth stage. Sagan was subsequently disqualified from the Tour, before making an unsuccessful appeal to CAS. Cavendish suffered an injured shoulder which ended his hopes of overtaking Eddy Merckx as the Tour’s most prolific stage winner.Hide Caption 8 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosCavendish is interviewed by the media following treatment to his shoulder. The Briton was ruled out after scans showed a broken shoulder blade.Hide Caption 9 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosThe pack rides past a sunflower field during the 207.5 km fourth stage of the Tour between Mondorf-les-Bains and Vittel.Hide Caption 10 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosThe pack, including Thomas (C) wearing the overall leader’s yellow jersey, rides during the 160.5 km fifth stage between Vittel and La Planche des Belles Filles.Hide Caption 11 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosThe fifth stage the Tour was the last time Thomas wore the yellow jersey. The 31-year-old, one of Froome’s key helpers in the mountains, was forced out of this year’s race after breaking his collarbone on stage nine, calling it “a bitter pill to swallow.”Hide Caption 12 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosKittel celebrates winning stage six of the Tour de France between Vesoul and Troyes (216km), his second victory of 2017.Hide Caption 13 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosThe riders take in the picturesque eighth stage of the Tour betweenDole and Station des Rousses. Lilian Calmejane delighted the home fans by recording a second French victory of this year’s Tour.Hide Caption 14 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosA horse rider is pictured in front of the pack as a media helicopter flies overhead during the seventh stage between Troyes and Nuits-Saint-Georges.Hide Caption 15 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosThe peloton jostles during the 213.5 km seventh stage.Hide Caption 16 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosCalmejane remarkably still won the eighth stage despite coming off his bike with a bout of cramp.Hide Caption 17 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosRichie Porte receives medical assistance after his horror crash during stage nine. The Aussie sustained a fractured right collarbone and pelvis on the descent of the Mont du Chat.Hide Caption 18 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosThe pack rides in the rain during the ninth stage between Nantua and Chambery.Hide Caption 19 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosThe peloton rides past an emergency helicopter during stage nine.Hide Caption 20 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosTeam Astana’s Alexey Lutsenko is helped from the bushes after crashing during stage nine from Nantua to Chambéry. The same corner claimed Lutsenko’s teammate Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev as another victim, with Thomas suffering the same fate as the chasing pack arrived minutes later.Hide Caption 21 of 22 Photos: Tour de France 2017: Best photosThe pack of riders in action during the nine stage of the Tour de France.Hide Caption 22 of 22Life after cyclingGiven that riders in the Tour de France can burn upwards of 4,000 calories a day, one of the main problems facing retired cyclists is often an expanding waistline.Pereiro, keen to temporarily get away from cycling once he retired in an attempt to “open his mind,” decided to pursue the sport he first played as a kid: football.After a conversation with the president of Coruxo, a fourth-tier Spanish club in Vigo, near to where Pereiro was born, the then 33-year-old was convinced to start training.To say it went well on a personal level would be an understatement. Pereiro played two games, scoring two goals. Not a bad ratio for a retired cyclist.READ: Tour de France — Maillot a pois rougeREAD: Tour de France — ‘Domestiques’ prove there is no I in team“When I decided to retire I wanted to keep playing sports, I didn’t want to get fat!” he recalls. “I wanted to take part in a sport that was different to cycling. It was another experience.”The level wasn’t good enough to play in the first division (La Liga), it was very bad. Very bad, very bad but I had fun there and it went really well.”