Few sporting accomplishments can be regarded as impressive as finishing one of cycling’s Grand Tours. Therefore, winning the Tour de France four times in five years almost defies comprehension, yet that’s what Britain’s Chris Froome achieved on Sunday as he glided triumphantly down the Champs-Elysees in Paris. The culmination of three tortuous weeks of racing up and down mountains, around towns and through the countryside saw the 32-year-old win a third successive Tour de France, extending his domination of the most prestigious cycle race on Earth. A glance at the leaderboard for much of the three weeks would have led you to believe it was a procession, but Froome had much to contend with throughout, while spectators were given a thrilling race from start to finish.
Froome and his Team Sky colleagues took charge at the front during the early stages, as the Tour began in Dusseldorf, Germany, before heading down to Belgium. Fabio Aru certainly kept Sky on their toes, with Geraint Thomas and Froome fighting to fend off his challenge at the top. But the most talked about moment early on occurred at the end of stage 4, as Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) clashed 200m from the finish line, with the Slovakian appearing to elbow his British rival off his bike. Cavendish suffered a broken collarbone during the tumble and withdrew from the Tour, while Sagan was disqualified.
Froome took the lead from his friend and team-mate Thomas on stage 5, with some already starting to speculate about whether Team Sky were capable of holding the yellow jersey from start to finish, a feat managed just twice in the last 60 years. But while Froome was looking good in the General Classification, Marcel Kittel was impressing in the time trials, racking up three wins before stage 9 as he targeted Cavendish’s record of six from 2009. Stage 9 brought about a serious blow to the chances of Team Sky and Froome, however. Their mettle was about to be truly tested.
All to Play For
Everything looked to be going smoothly for Team Sky before stage 9, when Froome’s chief helper Thomas crashed out of the race after colliding with Rafa Majka. The physical damage amounted to a broken collarbone, but the racing consequences meant Froome was now without the assistance of an immense rider and, eventually, Italian Fabio Aru of Astana wrestled the yellow jersey from the Brit in stage 12. France’s Romain Bardet, another challenger, won the stage, preventing Kittel from winning three in a row and matching Cavendish’s record. Things were certainly starting to heat up, with Froome struggling in the Pyrenees.
Defiance in the Face of Adversity
It was soon Aru’s turn to stutter, however, and Froome had the yellow jersey back again by the end of stage 14, turning a six-second deficit into an 18-second lead over the Italian after a brilliant finish in an uphill sprint. Froome did suffer another setback in the form of a puncture in the next stage, losing almost a minute in the end, but with the aid of Mikel Landa, he fought back and astonishingly retained the yellow jersey. While Froome’s position continued to go from strength to strength, points leader Kittel’s woes only seemed to mount. A fall on stage 17 added cuts and bruises to stomach and flu issues he was already suffering from, forcing him to bow out of the race.
The Ascent to Victory
France’s Warren Barguil stole the show on stage 18, breaking the Col d’Izoard ascent record by more than two minutes with his time of 38 mins 15 secs, but it was a day which effectively sealed Froome’s fourth Tour victory. He managed to finish ahead of eventual runner-up Rigoberto Uran, usually a threat in the time trials, and Froome avoided any further hiccups – he was even afforded some champagne 20km into Sunday’s final stage! He crossed the finish line with a time of 86h 20’ 55”, while Team Sunweb’s Michael Matthews claimed the points win with 370. Barguil took the polka dot jersey as the Best Climber and Simon Yates came first in the young rider classification, following the lead of his twin brother Adam who won it last year.
Finishing the Tour de France is a feat unto itself, so Froome’s incredible accomplishment of winning it for a fourth time is surely enough to inspire anyone. If his brilliance encourages you to saddle up for a cycling adventure, The Insurance Emporium’s Pick ‘N’ Mix bike insurance could be ideal for you. Territorial Coverage is one of 17 Elective Benefits on offer, giving you European or Worldwide cover for up to 45 days per trip, potentially keeping your cycling adventure on track should something go wrong. Spin by the Emporium today to find out more!