It’s the Tour de Froome
Team Sky rider wins his 4th Tour de France title
Riding a bright yellow bike to match his shiny leader’s jersey, defending champion Chris Froome won his fourth and most challenging Tour de France title on Sunday.
The 32-year-old Kenyan-born British rider finished 54 seconds ahead of Colombian Rigoberto Uran overall, the smallest margin of his wins.
“This Tour has been my toughest yet. I want to pay tribute to all riders for their sportsmanship,” Froome said. “We raced hard together, we suffered together.”
This was the third straight win for the Team Sky rider. His first in 2013 came the year after former teammate Bradley Wiggins sparked off an era of British dominance.
His margin of victory over Colombian Nairo Quintana in 2013 was by more than four minutes. Quintana pushed him much harder in 2015, finishing only 1:12 back, but Froome beat Frenchman Romain Bardet by 4:05 last year. Bardet was third this time.
“I want to dedicate this victory to my family. Your love and support makes everything possible,” Froome said. “I also want to thank my team Sky (for your) dedication and passion.”
Then, switching to an admirably improving French, Froome addressed the Parisian crowd.
“I wanted to thank the French fans, thank you for the welcome and your generosity,” said Froome, who was nevertheless loudly jeered in Marseille on Saturday. “More than 100 years ago you created this beautiful race. Your passion for this race makes it really special. I fell in love with this race.”
Bardet placed 2 minutes, 20 seconds behind him. But he denied Spaniard Mikel Landa — Froome’s teammate — a podium spot by just one second. Italian Fabio Aru, who briefly led the race, finished fifth, 3:05 behind.
As per tradition, the 21st stage was reserved for sprinters and mostly a procession for Froome and the other overall leaders.
Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen won it in a dash to the line, edging German rider Andre Greipel and Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen.
Moments later, Froome and the rest of the peloton crossed the line after eight laps of an eye-catching circuit around the city’s landmarks, finishing as usual on the famed Champs-Élysées.
Froome now needs only one more title to match the Tour record of five shared by Frenchmen Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, Belgian Eddie Merckx and Spaniard Miguel Indurain.
“It’s a huge honour to be talked about in the same sentence as those guys,” Froome said. “Lots of respect for them.”
Froome sealed it on Saturday, finishing third in the time trial in Marseille where he put more time into Uran and Bardet, who dropped from second to third.
After more than three weeks of stressful racing, it was a relaxed atmosphere as riders set out from Montgeron in the Essone suburb south of Paris to the evening finish 103 kilometres away.
Froome chatted with two-time champion Alberto Contador, the Spanish veteran, as if they were on a sightseeing ride.
Right in front of them, Frenchman Warren Barguil — wearing the best climber’s red-and-white polka-dot jersey — swapped race anecdotes with Australian Michael Matthews, wearing the green jersey awarded for the Tour’s top sprinter.
Matthews became the third Australian to win the green jersey, all this decade, following Robbie McEwen and Baden Cooke.
“It’s really a dream come true to stand there with the green jersey,” the 26-yearold Matthews said.
Froome’s teammates wore a yellow stripe on the back of their Team Sky shirts. They allowed themselves champagne, chinking glasses with leader Froome, as they rolled through the streets under cloudy skies beside cheering fans packing the roads into Paris.
Everyone was in high spirits, happy to complete a gruelling race that saw Australian Richie Porte, one of the pre-race favourites, and Froome’s teammate Geraint Thomas both crash out. Britain’s Mark Cavendish, a 30-time Tour stage winner, and Marcel Kittel — winner of five stages this year — pulled out injured.
As the peloton passed near where Frenchman Yoann Offredo grew up, a TV camera moved alongside, asking what it was like to be riding so close to home.
“I might nip to the bathroom,” he said, jokingly.
Another rider, Cyril Gautier, asked his girlfriend Caroline to marry him: the proposal scrawled on a piece of paper held up by the smiling Frenchman as he blew a kiss to the camera.
Chris Froome of Britain and Team Sky holds his son Kellan on the podium after winning the Tour de France for the fourth time Sunday.
The pack with Britain’s Chris Froome, wearing the overall leader’s yellow jersey, rides on the Champs Élysées with the Arc de Triomphe in the background on the final day of the Tour de France on Sunday.
Netherlands’ Dylan Groenewegen crosses the finish line to win the 21st and final stage of the Tour de France.