It’s the Tour de Froome

Team Sky rider wins his 4th Tour de France ti­tle

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

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.

BRYN LEN­NON, GETTY IM­AGES

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.

CHRISTOPHE ENA, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

CHRISTOPHE ENA, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Nether­lands’ Dy­lan Groe­newe­gen crosses the fin­ish line to win the 21st and fi­nal stage of the Tour de France.

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