To say Chris Froome’s year has not been normal would be an understatement — lining up for the Giro d’italia came with huge fanfare as he tried to hold all three of cycling’s Grand Tours at once.
The Team Sky man hadn’t been in convincing form leading up to the start in Israel — a fourth place overall finish at the Tour of the Alps was his best result before heading to Jerusalem. The aim to slowly build throughout the race so he could hold his form for the Tour de France took a hit before it had even started when he crashed on a practice lap of the time trial course. The first of many time losses in the first week would follow that day.
However, one of the most memorable Grand Tour racing days in recent history was to come as Froome took hold of the pink jersey in dramatic fashion. Sensing a chink in Simon Yates’s armour, Sky set a blistering pace on the brutal early slopes of the Colle delle Finestre. Froome attacked and soloed to the finish 80km away, 3.23 ahead of Tom Dumoulin, as Yates rolled in nearly 39 minutes down.
A solo attack to take a Grand Tour by the scruff of the neck hadn’t been seen for a generation and it electrified the cycling world while giving Froome the honour of becoming only the third rider to hold all three Grand Tours at once.
Meanwhile, the still unresolved salbutomal case loomed ominously as the Tour de France approached.
This would rumble on right up until the week before the Grand Départ in the Vendée region, before a conveniently timed conclusion from the UCI came the day after ASO threatened to ban Froome from competing. A boo-filled team presentation set the tone for the entire race. After an underwhelming start, Froome recovered in the Alps then fell off the podium before a strong final time trial put him on the podium in Paris. Given how Froome reacts to defeat, though, a fifth Tour title in 2019 wouldn’t be a surprise.