In two years, Britain has now had two different winners: Bradley Wiggins in 2012 and then Froome, a cooler, calmer, more understated but no less determined character than his Sky teammate with famous sideburns.
Chris Froome won the 100th Tour de France on Sunday and immediately vowed that his victory wouldn’t be stripped for doping as Lance Armstrong’s were.
“To win the 100th edition is an honor beyond any I’ve dreamed,” Froome said. “This yellow jersey will stand the test of time.”
Froome was untroubled on the 21st and final stage of the three-week race, a 133.5km ride from Versailles to Paris and an evening sprint finish on the Champs Elysees won by Germany’s Marcel Kittel.
He completed more than 2,100 miles in 83 hours, 56 minutes. After appearing to be superhuman during the Tour’s first two weeks, Froome showed signs of fatigue on the final days in the Alps. On Thursday’s stage on l’Alpe d’Huez, Froome lost ground to Colombian rider Nairo Quintana and Spain’s Joaquin Rodriguez.
Froome began the final stage with a lead of 5:03 on Quintana — the largest winning margin since disgraced American Lance Armstrong claimed his sixth win in 2004 with a lead of six minutes on German Andreas Kloden.
However, Froome rode into Paris in style: riders pedaled up to him to offer congratulations; he sipped from a flute of champagne; a Tour organizer stuck an arm from his car window to shake Froome’s hand. He dedicated his victory to his late mother, Jane, who died in 2008.
Jane Froome had been Chris’s number one fan, the doting, devoted mum who put him on the path to a cycling career in Kenya, who would travel untold miles in a car just to support the stubborn lad who would not give up on those long, hard dusty rides with hardened Kikuyu riders.
“Without her encouragement to follow my dreams I would probably be at home watching on TV,” he said.
Standing on the Champs Elysee in Paris with his Welsh-born fiancée Michelle Cound, the 28-year-old admitted he had “worried every day” about the course, but was “so proud” to have won, says the Daily Mail.
Froome and his Team Sky manager David Brailsford did everything they could to quiet the doping speculation. Before the tour, the team had refused to release the data from Froome’s wattage meter — a device that measures a rider’s power. But midway through the final week, Sky reversed its course, and released the data, writes the USA Today.
Brailsford, who previously built Great Britain’s Olympic track cycling into a factory of gold medals, said he, too, understood why fans and media would doubt the dominant performance.
Froome thus becomes the second successive Briton to win the race after teammate and compatriot Bradley Wiggins, who made history as Britain’s first winner in 2012, when Froome finished runner-up.
The 28-year-old Froome, born in Nairobi, won three stages on this year’s race — two on mountaintop finishes and one time trial — to take his tally to four.