Froome wins third Tour de France, seals place among greats

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

BRI­TAIN’S Chris Froome won his third Tour de France on July 24 to con­firm his sta­tus as one of the all-time greats on the world’s most gru­elling race. Froome fin­ished with a 4 min 05 sec­ond ad­van­tage over French­man Ro­main Bardet, with Nairo Quintana, the run­ner-up in 2013 and 2015, plac­ing third.

“It’s an ab­so­lutely amaz­ing feel­ing. It feels like a priv­i­lege to be in this posi­ton,” said Froome, who praised his Sky team­mates for their sup­port af­ter a day which saw Ger­man An­dre Greipel win the fi­nal stage on Paris’ Champs El­y­sees.

“I’ve al­ways had my team­mates around me. This race was even tougher [than his pre­vi­ous vic­to­ries]. We haven’t won the team com­pe­ti­tion but by far we’ve had the strong­est team here – I’m in­cred­i­bly grate­ful for that.”

Froome won two stages dur­ing the race, tak­ing his per­sonal haul to seven in what was his most dom­i­nant per­for­mance yet.

Hav­ing fin­ished just over a minute ahead of Quintana last year, 31-yearold Froome was ex­pected to face his tough­est chal­lenge yet as the course was meant to favour the 26-year-old Colom­bian.

Froome him­self de­scribed it as “a climber’s Tour” but the man widely lauded as the best climber in the world and ex­pected to push him to his lim­its, frus­trated fans with his timid­ity.

Quintana claimed he was suf­fer­ing from an al­lergy but his con­tent­ment at fin­ish­ing third – his worst tour fin­ish – spoke vol­umes.

The loss of Al­berto Con­ta­dor, who crashed on the open­ing two stages and then suc­cumbed to ill­ness on the ninth, robbed the race of one of its chief an­i­ma­tors.

It was also a com­ing-of-age for Bardet, who won a stage for the sec­ond year in a row and demon­strated im­pres­sive pro­gres­sion af­ter fin­ish­ing sixth in 2014 and ninth last year.

Adam Yates was also a rev­e­la­tion as the 23-year-old Bri­ton came fourth and won the young rider’s white jer­sey com­pe­ti­tion.

It was a great tour for the Bri­tish as a whole, with Mark Cavendish win­ning four stages, more than any­one else, as he re-es­tab­lished him­self as the world’s best sprinter af­ter three years of be­ing shoved into the shadows by burly Ger­man pair Mar­cel Kit­tel and An­dre Greipel.

Cavendish, the Manx Mis­sile, is now sec­ond on the over­all stage win list with 30, be­hind only Eddy Mer­ckx on 34, the five-time Tour winner and Bel­gian leg­end still top of the pile.

Bri­tain won one-third of the tour stages, seven in to­tal, with Stephen Cum­mings claim­ing a stage for the sec­ond year in a row.

For Bri­tish team Sky, it was a fourth Tour win in five years – an amaz­ing achieve­ment for a team cre­ated in 2010, and for a coun­try that had never had a tour cham­pion be­fore Bradley Wig­gins in 2012.

It might have been Froome’s tour but Peter Sa­gan was also a shin­ing light.

The world cham­pion won three stages, claimed the green points jer­sey for the fifth year in a row and was also named the race’s most com­bat­ive rider.

The 26-year-old Slo­vak, who won his first “Mon­u­ment” one-day clas­sic race in April at the Tour of Flan­ders, is get­ting stronger all the time.

He’s not a climber but the gen­eral feel­ing is that if he de­cided to lose weight and ded­i­cate him­self to Grand Tours, he would prob­a­bly win this race one day.

Rafal Ma­jka of Poland won the king of the moun­tains jer­sey for the sec­ond time in three years but his only com­pe­ti­tion came from Bel­gian Thomas De Gendt, who is not even a climber.

The tour fin­ished with a record 175 rid­ers reach­ing the line in Paris while Aus­tralia’s Chloe Hosk­ing won the women’s 89km one-day race around Paris that pre­ceded the ar­rival of the men’s pelo­ton.

It was also a tour that was re­mark­able, if not for the rac­ing, then for a cou­ple of mem­o­rable moments.

The first saw Yates knocked off his bike by an in­flat­able arch 1km from the fin­ish of the sev­enth stage.

The other was the sight of Froome run­ning to the fin­ish­ing line on the iconic Mont Ven­toux af­ter his bike was bro­ken in a crash with a mo­tor­cy­cle.

Photo: AFP

Christopher Froome, wear­ing the over­all leader’s yel­low jer­sey, drinks a glass of cham­pagne to cel­e­brate the last stage of this year’s tour.

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