FROOME SAVORING HIS TOUGHEST TITLE
54-second win feels sweeter than past blowouts
PARIS» After the champagne bubbles fade and Chris Froome drifts away from his Sunday night celebrations to reflect on a fourth Tour de France win, he may do so with greater fondness than the others.
The first, in 2013, brought the bursting pride of a first success. But he won by more than four minutes, as he did last year. Although Nairo Quintana finished a little over one minute behind him in 2015, this year’s championship — by just 54 seconds — over another Colombian cyclist, Rigoberto Uran, tastes sweeter.
“This Tour has been my toughest yet,” Froome said.
Froome temporarily lost the race lead to daring Italian rider Fabio Aru in the Pyrenees on a huge climb to the ski station of Peyragudes, and thought he’d lost it altogether two days later.
Last Sunday in Rodez, Froome was forced to change his rear wheel for the final 25 miles after a spoke broke. He got dropped, drifting way behind the peloton.
“I was just standing there on the side of the road with my teammate Michal Kwiatkowski,” Froome said. “I thought it was potentially game over.”
Riding with unchained fury, Kwiatkowski and Froome bridged the gap — and saved his Tour.
Fast forward to Saturday’s penultimate stage in Marseille and a time trial — one of his strongest disciplines. Froome was right back in the ascendency and closing in on Tour victory No. 4.
Yet the future champion from Britain was jeered by fans at the Stade Velodrome soccer stadium as he began his ride, and more jeers followed along the route.
Froome had urine chucked over him on a previous Tour, so booing was hardly going to unsettle him. He was almost chivalrous on the podium Sunday, addressing fans in admirable French.
“Thank you for the welcome and your generosity,” Froome said, with unintentional irony. “Your passion for this race makes it really special. I fell in love with this race.”
This was the third consecutive win for the Team Sky rider.
Chris Froome of Great Britain, riding for Team Sky in the yellow leader’s jersey, celebrates Sunday in Paris after winning the Tour de France for the fourth time. “This Tour has been my toughest yet,” Froome said.