Tour de France 2016: Chris Froome cruises to third title
Chris Froome secured a third Tour de France victory Sunday after crossing the finish line in Paris alongside the Team Sky teammates who have helped propel him to victory.
The British rider, who previously won the punishing cycling race in 2013 and 2015, came to dominate the 2016 Tour, finishing more than four minutes ahead of Romain Bardet of AG2R La Mondiale in second place and Team Movistar’s Nairo Quintana in third.
Although final stage victory went to Andre Greipel of Lotto Soudal, it was Froome whose cumulative time of 89 hours, six minutes and one second over 21 grueling stages ensured he would be the last man atop the podium on the Champs Elysee.
Froome’s overall win means that a British man and Team Sky rider have now won four out of the last five Tours — a remarkable turn of events given Bradley Wiggins 2012 victory was the first by a Briton since the event began in 1903.
Speaking atop the podium, Froome said: “To my team-mates and support team. This is your yellow jersey too, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for your sacrifice.”
“This is one special team and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
The Road to Paris
Froome, a climbing specialist, took hold of the yellow jersey after attacking the final descent between Pau and Bagneres-de-Luchon on stage eight and refused to give it up over the ensuing weeks.
He again claimed victory at the stage 18 mountain time trial from Sallanches to Megève. However, it was his unerring consistency in the stages between that extended his lead and kept the likes of Bardet and Quintana at bay.
Yet that’s not to say this was a Tour without challenges or drama for the Kenyan born rider — far from it.
A remarkable turn of events on Mont Ventoux during stage 14 saw Froome abandon his damaged bike and run towards the finish line after he and a number of other riders collided with a broadcaster’s motorbike that stopped suddenly.
Although the delay this caused initially led to Froome falling behind rival Adam Yates, race organizers later ruled that he should be awarded the same time as Bauke Mollema who also crashed into the motorbike but was able to carry on.
As a result, Froome maintained his overall Tour lead.
Froome also courted controversy on stage eight when he pushed away a spectator after becoming concerned that the flag the fan was carrying was close to flickering between his wheels and handlebars.
Meanwhile, another crash on the 146 kilometer stretch of road between Albertville and Saint-Gervais-les-Bains on stage 19, saw Team Sky teammate, Geraint Thomas, selflessly give Froome his bike to enable him to push on and increase his overall lead.
Vive Le Tour
Thomas told UK broadcaster ITV4 Sunday that the spirit and focus exemplified by such charitable acts were key to Team Sky and Froome’s success.
“It has been an incredible few weeks. The strength of the team was phenomenal, we had five climbers and we’ve all led teams but there were no egos and everything was all about Froome,” Thomas said
Given the recent terror attack in Nice which killed 89 people, Froome also reserved kind words for the French people and the possibility of sport to bring people together.
“This Tour has obviously taken place against the backdrop of terrible events in Nice and we pay tribute to those who have lost their lives. These events put sport into perspective but it also shows the value of sport to free society,” Froome said.
“We all love the Tour because it is unpredictable but we love the Tour more for what stays the same – the passion from fans, the French countryside and the bond created by sport. These things will never change.”
He then ended his remarks on the podium with an emotional “vive Le Tour et vive la France.”