Near perfect Froome claims fourth Tour de France title
The Briton suffered a few hiccups but was always in control over the three-week race thanks to his excellent team mates who sheltered him when it mattered.
PARIS - Chris Froome put on a near-perfect performance to claim his fourth Tour de France and move within one title of cycling’s greatest on Sunday as Team Sky tightened their grip on the classic race.
The Briton suffered a few hiccups but was always in control over the three-week race thanks to his excellent team mates who sheltered him when it mattered, leaving the lanky rider to make the difference in the time trials.
Sky, who have the biggest budget of the peloton, have now snatched five of the last six titles and came within a whisker of placing two riders on the podium as Spain’s Mikel Landa missed out on the top three by one second, according to provisional timings.
Froome is now one title behind Belgian Eddy Merckx, Spain’s Miguel Indurain and French duo Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault.
He is the first to win three consecutive titles since Indurain, who prevailed from 1991-95. The disgraced Lance Armstrong’s seven titles since then have been erased from the record book.
Colombian Rigoberto Uran finished second overall, 54 seconds behind, and France’s Romain Bardet, runner-up last year, was third, 2:20 off the pace after both riders lost time to Froome in Saturday’s final time trial.
Sunday’s largely processional stage from Montgeron - where the first Tour started in 1903 - to the Champs Elysees in Paris was won by Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen in a bunch sprint.
The 103-km ride was the occasion for Froome to sip rose Champagne with his team mates as the race began only when the peloton, who went through the Grand Palais, reached the Champs Elysees.
Froome suffered two mechanical problems at key points in the race but his rivals failed to take full advantage of the failures.
In the ninth stage, they waited for him after Fabio Aru attacked near the top of the final climb, and his main rivals did not go for the throat a week later after the Briton broke a spoke on his rear wheel and found himself trailing by 45 seconds.
He was beaten in a brutal uphill finish in Peyragudes as the 26-year-old Bardet won the stage, showing he has the potential to win the Tour.
Bardet and the other overall contenders were too weak in the time trials, however. Froome was well aware of that and he took few risks, knowing he would settle the score on a penultimate day in Marseille.
France had a great Tour with five stage wins, including a double by Warren Barguil, who won the polka dot jersey for the mountains classification and emerged as a popular figure, bringing back memories of Richard Virenque.
Australian Michael Matthews’s versatility earned him the green jersey for the points classification, helped by the fact that world champion Peter Sagan was kicked out of the race after elbowing Mark Cavendish in a sprint finish.
Britain’s Simon Yates won the white jersey for the best under-25 rider after finishing seventh overall, one year after his twin brother Adam achieved the same feat.