Chris Froome completes third race victory

Chris Froome became Britain’s first three-time winner of the Tour de France when he crossed the finish line of the 21-stage race in Paris on Sunday.

The Team Sky rider, who won the 2013 and 2015 races, is the first man to defend his title in more than 20 years.

He finished arm-in-arm with his team-mates behind the peloton after Andre Greipel won the final sprint finish.

“It’s like the first time, it’s amazing. Every time it’s special,” said 31-year-old Froome.

“It’s an absolutely amazing feeling. It feels like a privilege to be in this position. I’ve always had my team-mates around me.”

Froome’s three victories in four years follows Sir Bradley Wiggins becoming the first Briton to win the race in 2012.

He had built up a lead of more than four minutes over the previous 20 stages and tradition dictates that the yellow jersey is not attacked on the final stage.

Froome ended up beating Romain Bardet of France by four minutes and five seconds with Colombia’s Nairo Quintana in third and Britain’s Adam Yates fourth.

Sunday’s stage to Paris began with a processional ride from Chantilly, in northern France, with the winners of the four main jerseys leading the peloton.

Froome, in the yellow jersey, was joined by Yates in the white jersey as best young rider, Slovak Peter Sagan in the green points top and Poland’s Rafal Majka in the polka dot king of the mountains jersey.

When the riders reached Paris the race became competitive for nine 6.8km laps of the city centre which culminated in a bunch sprint on the Champs-Elysees, which Greipel won for the second time in his career.

He becomes just the eighth rider to win at least three Tours de France, joining Belgium’s Phillipe Thys, Louison Bobet of France and American Greg LeMond on three.

With disgraced Lance Armstrong’s seven ‘wins’ between 1999-2005 expunged from the record books after he admitted to doping, the record of five Tour wins, held jointly by Frenchmen Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, Belgium’s Eddy Merckz and Miguel Indurain of Spain, is very much in Froome’s sight.

Indurain was the last man to successfully defend the title, winning five successive Tours from 1991.

“It would be my dream to keep coming back for the next five or six years and give myself the best opportunity of winning again,” said Froome.

“I can’t say the novelty is wearing off. It’s such an incredible event and to be in the yellow jersey is every cyclist’s dream and the biggest honour in our sport.

“I hope I can be back next year to fight for it again.”

Froome used his podium speech to reflect on the  attack in Nice that killed more than 80 people on Bastille Day.

“This Tour has obviously taken place against the backdrop of terrible events in Nice and we pay tribute to those who have lost their lives,” he said.

“These events put sport into perspective but it also shows the value of sport to free society.”

And he also took the opportunity to thanks his wife, Michelle, and dedicated the victory to his seven-month-old son Kellan.

 

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