Cadel Evans on podium in Paris
Evans had been hopeful of a win in this year's Tour but a stunning performance from his rival Carlos Sastre in the penultimate stage of the tour, a 53 kilometre time trial from Cerilly to St Amand Montrond means the Australian will now aim for 2009.
Cadel Evans has finished the 2008 Tour de France in second place overall.
It's the second year running the Silence-Lotto rider has finished second, last year to another Spaniard Alberto Contador, by a mere 23 seconds. This year after three and a half thousand kilometres and three weeks of racing the final margin was 58 seconds, all of which was gained by Sastre when he attacked for a solo win on the Stage 17 finish into l'Alpe d'Huez.
This year Evans fought back from a crash in the first week of the Tour to become the fifth Australian to wear the leader's yellow jersey. He held the race lead for for five stages surrendering it on Stage 15 to Sastre's team mate Franck Schleck.
"I was lucky to continue after that first crash and I'm still sore now," said Evans after the podium presentation on the Champs Elysées. "I rode a good race I gave everything, 110 per cent of what I had in my legs I got onto the road and onto the results board but obviously it wasn't good enough.
"So far my Tour de France has been a four-year plan and I think I've got three or four more good tours left in me," he said. " I'm not going to give up now, I think I'm just coming into my best years."
The final stage in Paris was won by Gert Steegmans (BEL - Quickstep) with Evans' team mate, Queensland's Robbie McEwen fourth across the line.
Australian Stuart O'Grady was celebrating his role in the win of his team mate Sastre and being a member of CSC-Saxo Bank which took out the Tour's Team Classification with a dominant performance that saw three of their riders finish in the top 12 overall.
Victorian Simon Gerrans this year became the first Australian to win a mountain stage of the Tour, a feat he achieved on stage 15, a 183 kilometre stage Alpine stage from Embrun to Prato Nevoso in Italy.
Of the nine Australians who started the Tour seven rode across the finish line in Paris with four now headed into pre-Olympic Games camps. Evans, Gerrans and O'Grady will head to Varese in Italy later this week to join Matthew Lloyd and Michael Rogers at the road camp while Brett Lancaster will head to Buttgen in Germany on Tuesday to join the track group.
Tour de France final standings of Australians
2. Cadel Evans @58s
77. Trent Lowe @2h13m41s
79. Simon Gerrans @2h14m25s (winner stage 15)
108. Adam Hansen @3h04m52s
109. Stuart O'Grady @3h07m46s (member winning team)
122. Robbie McEwen @3h22m36s (second on stage 13)
129. Brett Lancaster @3h27m29s
DNF Mark Renshaw (withdrew with illness) & Baden Cooke (withdrew after sustaining injuries in a crash)