Fan­tas­tic Froome cruises to fourth ti­tle

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

PARIS: Chris Froome put on a near-per­fect per­for­mance to claim his fourth Tour de France and move within one ti­tle of cy­cling’s great­est yes­ter­day as Team Sky tight­ened their grip on the clas­sic race.

The Bri­ton suf­fered a few hic­cups but was al­ways in con­trol over the three-week race thanks to his ex­cel­lent team­mates who shel­tered him when it mat­tered, leav­ing the lanky rider to make the dif­fer­ence in the time tri­als.

Sky, who have the big­gest bud­get of the pelo­ton, have now snatched five of the last six ti­tles and came within a whisker of plac­ing two rid­ers on the podium as Spain’s Mikel Landa missed out on the top three by one sec­ond, ac­cord­ing to pro­vi­sional tim­ings.

Froome is now one ti­tle be­hind Bel­gian Eddy Mer­ckx, Spain’s Miguel In­durain and the French duo of Jacques An­quetil and Bernard Hin­ault.

He is the first to win three con­sec­u­tive ti­tles since In­durain, who pre­vailed from 1991-95.

The dis­graced Lance Arm­strong’s seven ti­tles since then have been erased from the record book.

Colom­bian Rigob­erto Uran fin­ished sec­ond over­all, 54 sec­onds be­hind, and France’s Ro­main Bardet, run­ner-up last year, was third, 2:20 off the pace af­ter both rid­ers lost time to Froome in Satur­day’s fi­nal time trial.

Yes­ter­day’s largely pro­ces­sional stage from Mont­geron – where the first Tour started in 1903 – to the Champs El­y­sees in Paris was won by Dutch­man Dy­lan Groe­newe­gen in a bunch sprint.

The 103-km ride was the oc­ca­sion for Froome to sip rose Champagne with his team­mates as the race be­gan only when the pelo­ton, who went through the Grand Palais, reached the Champs El­y­sees.

Froome suf­fered two me­chan­i­cal prob­lems at key points in the race but his ri­vals failed to take full ad­van­tage of the fail­ures.

In the ninth stage, they waited for him af­ter Fabio Aru at­tacked near the top of the fi­nal climb, and his main ri­vals did not go for the throat a week later af­ter the Bri­ton broke a spoke in his rear wheel and found him­self trail­ing by 45 sec­onds.

He was beaten in a bru­tal up­hill fin­ish in Peyragudes as the 26-year-old Bardet won the stage, show­ing he has the po­ten­tial to win the Tour.

Bardet and the other over­all con­tenders were too weak in the time tri­als how­ever. Froome was well aware of that and he took few risks, know­ing he would set­tle the score on the penul­ti­mate day in Mar­seille.

France had a great Tour with five stage wins, in­clud­ing a dou­ble by War­ren Bar­guil, who won the polka dot jersey for the moun­tains clas­si­fi­ca­tion and emerged as a pop­u­lar fig­ure, bring­ing back mem­o­ries of Richard Virenque.

Aus­tralian Michael Matthews’s ver­sa­til­ity earned him the green jersey for the points clas­si­fi­ca­tion, helped by the fact that world cham­pion Peter Sagan was kicked out of the race af­ter el­bow­ing Mark Cavendish in a sprint fin­ish.

Bri­tain’s Si­mon Yates won the white jersey for the best Un­der-25 rider af­ter fin­ish­ing seventh over­all, one year af­ter his twin brother Adam achieved the same feat. – Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.