Froome wins second Tour de France
Chris Froome claimed a momentous second victory in the Tour de France as the 2015 edition came to a close in Paris.
The 30 year old Brit crossed the line on the famous Champs-Elysees arm in arm with his Team Sky team-mates to make sure of success in the world’s biggest bike race.
After 21 stages and three relentless weeks of racing, Froome topped the podium with an eventual winning margin of one minute and 12 seconds over nearest rival Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
Froome’s victory marked Team Sky’s third Tour de France win in four years after the seminal success of Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2012, followed by a historic British double as Froome took the maillot jaune in 2013.
Also finishing the race with enough points to win the polka dot King of the Mountains competition, Froome became the first rider to claim both jerseys since Eddy Merckx in 1970, and only the sixth man in history to do it.
The final 109.5-kilometre test played out in soaking conditions but that did not dampen the spirits of a victorious team. Treacherous wet roads saw the race commisaires dictate that the final GC time would be taken on the first passage cross the line in Paris, allowing Froome to relax in the peloton.
After 10 laps a breathless sprint finish decided the final stage with Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) prevailing to take victory in the most famous sprint of them all.
Special success for Froome
On the winner’s podium in the centre of the Champs-Elysees an emotional Froome dedicated his victory to his team and spoke about the significance of the jersey he stood there wearing.
“Of course I want to start off by thanking my team-mates,” he said. “Without you guys I would not be standing up here. Richie, Wout, Ian, G, Pete, Luke, Nico and Leo. My upmost respect and gratitude. This is your yellow jersey as much as it is mine.
“Thank you to all the support staff of Team Sky. Your endless dedication and commitment is what has got us through the tough moments of this year’s Tour de France. And a special mention to my coach Tim Kerrison and Team Manager Dave Brailsford. Thank you to my wife Michelle – your love and support are my strength and motivation. I can’t wait for this next chapter of our lives to begin together with a baby boy.
“The maillot jaune is special, very special. I understand its history, good and bad. I will always respect it. Never dishonour it, and I will always be proud to have won it. Thank you very much.”
Presiding over his third Tour success, Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford put the victory into perspective.
He said: “I think tactically and from a team perspective it’s the best Tour we’ve ridden. The guys didn’t put a foot wrong and then of course Chris finished it off. So it’s very satisfying from that point of view.
“I’ve been doing this for 15/16 years now and we’ve won a lot of Olympic medals. We’ve used that same methodology to come to Sky and create Team Sky – and the same methodology has worked again.”
Rather than simply looking to weather the storm during a difficult opening nine days of racing, Team Sky took the initiative, battling through cobbles and crosswinds to ensure Froome was in the box seat as the race hit the mountains.
Froome had pulled on the maillot jaune as early as stage three after a strong finish on the Mur de Huy. After Tony Martin (Etixx – Quick-Step) was forced to relinquish yellow following a crash and subsequent broken collarbone, Froome regained the lead officially after stage seven and never let it go.
To a man Froome’s Team Sky team-mates again stepped up to the plate in the mountains of the Pyrenees and the Alps, supporting Froome throughout despite tough days, illness and constant attacks from his GC rivals.
Completing his first Tour de France, Luke Rowe spent huge periods of time controlling the pace on the front of the bunch, forming a rock-solid combination with Ian Stannard across all terrains. Nicolas Roche was on hand in the rough and tumble opening week, as well as in the mountains. Pete Kennaugh was forced to abandon the race on stage 16 due to illness but played a vital role both on the climbs and each time the team hit the front.
Leopold König was a strong presence in the mountains and rode impressively to back up his top-10 performance in May’s Giro d’Italia. Wout Poels was invaluable in the high mountains and the Dutchman significantly put in a heroic performance across the final two days in the Alps. Joining him and Froome on Alpe d’Huez, Richie Porte showed why he is one of the most feared climbers in the world, battling back from illness to rip the race apart in support of his friend and team-mate.
The 2015 Tour saw Geraint Thomas make a huge step forward in his stage racing career. The Welshman climbed with the GC elite and sat as high as fourth overall until the phenomenal effort finally caught up with him in the Alps. Despite that, 15th place still represents his highest Grand Tour finish and a landmark ride.
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