Froome joins cycling elite with third Tour success


Chris Froome established himself as the best road rider of his generation on Sunday as he became only the seventh rider to win three general classification titles at the Tour de France.

The Team Sky rider assumed the yellow jersey on stage eight of the 2016 Tour and never looked back, his eventual winning margin set at four minutes and five seconds as he crossed the line on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Victory for the 31-year-old sees him join Greg LeMond, Philippe Thys and Louison Bobet on three GC titles, with only the legendary trio of Miguel Indurain, Bernard Hinault and Eddy Merckx ahead of him on five.

Not since 1995 has a rider won successive Tour titles - excluding the expunged wins of Lance Armstrong - when Indurain made it five in a row.

Great riders, including Alberto Condator, Bradley Wiggins, Vincenzo Nigabi and Froome himself, had tried and failed to win back-to-back yellow jerseys, but the Kenya-born Briton was not to be denied in 2016 as he unveiled a new string to his bow that caught his rivals off guard.

Previous Tours have seen Froome dominate in the mountains, his sensational ability to handle the steep gradients and lengthy ascents have set him apart from other GC contenders.

However, the emergence of Nairo Quintana has seen Froome widen his vast array of skills, and he stunned Quintana on stage eight with a solo descent previously unseen in his locker.

Froome can make mistakes but it is his ability to recover quickly that sets him apart. Would any other rider have run up Mont Ventoux?

And when he crashed in the Alps, rather than panicking Froome climbed aboard Geraint Thomas' bike and finished the stage despite the difficulties on board someone else's machine - no need to panic.

Having negotiated 3,529 kilometres over the 21 stages Froome crossed the line arm in arm with his Team Sky colleagues - their efforts just as impressive in keeping their team leader safe.

It all began for Froome four years ago as he helped Bradley Wiggins to the title in 2012, but he quickly emerged from the shadow of his former team-mate and has led Team Sky by example ever since.

Twelve months later he was leading his own squad and three stage wins helped him to a maiden Grand Tour success.

A crash on the Belgian cobbles ended his hopes of victory in 2014, but a determined Froome was not to be denied last year as his sensational climbing ability helped him brush off his rivals - and some unwanted attention from the spectators - to seal his second GC win, this time by just over one minute.

Quintana and Alberto Contador were expected to push him harder than ever before this year but while his rivals have improved, so too has Froome - and worryingly for the peloton he shows no sign of slowing down..

Undoubtedly he will have his sights set on matching and maybe even eclipsing the three men above him, and with the efforts of Team Sky and himself not many would back against him achieving it.