Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FRONT PAGE - PIC­TURE: FRANCISCO SECO/AP PHOTO

Chris Froome cel­e­brates af­ter win­ning La Vuelta yesterday, be­com­ing only the third rider to win the event and the Tour de France in the same year. Vic­tory in Madrid en­abled Froome to be­come the first Bri­ton to win La Vuelta.

CHRIS FROOME won La Vuelta – be­com­ing only the third rider to win the event and the Tour de France in the same year.

Vic­tory in Madrid yesterday en­abled Froome to be­come the first Bri­ton to win La Vuelta – and he toasted the achieve­ment with a glass of cava in the sad­dle, handed him by a mo­tor­cy­cle cam­era crew dur­ing the 117.6km 21st and fi­nal stage.

The Team Sky rider fin­ished two min­utes and 15 sec­onds clear of sec­ond-placed Ital­ian Vin­cenzo Nibali, with Rus­sia’s Il­nur Zakarin third.

Nibali’s com­pa­triot Mat­teo Trentin won the fi­nal stage, his fourth vic­tory, ahead of Lor­renzo Manzin and Soren Kragh An­der­sen – but Froome’s 11th-placed fin­ish de­nied the Ital­ian the green jer­sey.

Only Jac­ques An­quetil in 1963 and Bernard Hin­ault 15 years later have matched the Bri­ton’s achieve­ment, although he is the first to do so since La Vuelta was moved from be­fore the Tour to af­ter it in 1995.

Froome’s win­ning time was 82 hours, 30 min­utes and two sec­onds and within min­utes of the fin­ish the de­lighted 32-year-old was quick to tweet a pho­to­graph of him­self eat­ing pizza with the cap­tion, “Job done!”.

He summed up his emo­tions in a mes­sage posted by Team Sky on their Twit­ter feed.

Froome, who had three times fin­ished sec­ond in La Vuelta, said: “I’ve been fight­ing for this vic­tory for six years.

“It’s amaz­ing to stand on the top step this time.”

He was con­grat­u­lated on his achieve­ment by Sports Min­is­ter Tracey Crouch, who said: “Con­grat­u­la­tions to Chris Froome, and all at Team Sky, for his his­toric vic­to­ries in the Vuelta a Es­pana and Tour de France this year.

“It is an in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment and fur­ther ce­ments Froome’s po­si­tion as one of the all-time cycling greats.”

Froome had all but wrapped up his vic­tory the day be­fore, hail­ing it his “greatest achieve­ment”.

Head­ing into Satur­day’s stage 20 with an ad­van­tage of one minute and 37 sec­onds over Bahrain-Merida’s Vin­cenzo Nibali, Froome ex­tended his lead by fin­ish­ing sec­ond on the bru­tal Alto de l’Angliru.

Trek-Se­gafredo’s Al­berto Con­ta­dor took a sen­sa­tional and emo­tional solo vic­tory in his fi­nal grand tour be­fore re­tire­ment but came 20 sec­onds short of a place on the podium.

Be­hind him, Froome and Team Sky lieu­tenant Wout Poels crossed the line 17 sec­onds later, ex­tend­ing the Bri­ton’s lead to two min­utes 15 sec­onds in the gen­eral clas­si­fi­ca­tion af­ter Nibali strug­gled on the fi­nal climb fol­low­ing an ear­lier crash.

“I think it prob­a­bly is my greatest achieve­ment, be­ing the first per­son to win the Tour de France and then go on to win the Vuelta,” said Froome.

“It’s an amaz­ing feel­ing. The team has just been in­cred­i­ble over the last few months. It’s meant so much to me, the way they have sup­ported us. I owe a mas­sive thank you to all my team­mates.”

Froome’s three weeks in Spain have not been plain sail­ing, de­spite him hold­ing the leader’s red jer­sey since stage three.

Stage 16 saw the 32-year-old hit the deck twice on a de­scent while he saw his lead slashed on stage 17 af­ter be­ing dropped by his ri­vals.

But he made no mistake in the 117.5-kilo­me­tre penul­ti­mate stage from Corvero de As­turias to Alto de l’Angliru, a climb that saw Bradley Wig­gins lose the red jer­sey in 2011, the same year Froome had the first of his three sec­ond-place fin­ishes at the event.

Froome said: “I have to say that is prob­a­bly the tough­est grand tour I’ve ever rid­den.

“There was some­thing dif­fer­ent hap­pen­ing ev­ery day. I’ve had good days and then I’ve been ly­ing on the ground, bleed­ing, think­ing my race might be over.

“It’s been a roller coaster – ab­so­lutely re­lent­less. It’s a re­lief now to fin­ish and to be get­ting to Madrid.

“L’Angliru is such a bru­tal climb, so con­grat­u­la­tions to Al­berto (Con­ta­dor) for fin­ish­ing off the way he did. That was an amaz­ing way to end a ca­reer. He was just too strong for us to­day.”

Con­ta­dor, a three-time Vuelta win­ner, had at­tacked on the early slopes of the fi­nal climb to the de­light of the lo­cals.

The 34-year-old col­lided with a fan with 6km left but re­mained up­right be­fore rid­ing on to vic­tory.

Con­ta­dor said: “There couldn’t be a bet­ter fin­ish, win­ning on the Angliru. No way for a bet­ter end.”

He was over three min­utes adrift of Froome in the GC stand­ings, so the Bri­ton’s fo­cus was firmly on Nibali.

The Ital­ian was one of a num­ber of rid­ers to crash on the slippy de­scent of Alto de la Cordal and while he caught back up with Froome’s group be­fore the Angliru, he cracked in the clos­ing stages.

Nibali re­mained in sec­ond over­all, 36 sec­onds clear of Team Ka­tusha Alpecin’s Il­nur Zakarin, who went on to take his first grand tour podium.


CEL­E­BRA­TIONS: Great Bri­tain’s Chris Froome takes a selfie with his team-mates af­ter be­com­ing the first cy­clist in 39 years to com­plete the pres­ti­gious Tour de France-La Vuelta dou­ble. Hol­land’s Lars Boom, left, won his sec­ond Tour of Bri­tain in Cardiff yesterday.

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