Chris Froome: Tour de Four

Browse By

For those of you who are unaware, British cyclist Chris Froome won his fourth Tour de France on Sunday, 23 July. This puts him one Tour win away from the greatest Tour winners of all time: Miguel Indurain, Bernard Hinault and the greatest there ever was – the Belgian, Eddy Merckx. He’s surpassed the likes of LeMond, Bobet and Contador. Yet his Tour doesn’t come to the same recognition. He’s been described as boring, only winning because he had the strongest team. This should be disputed.

Froome has been the most dominant rider of the decade. While Sky has undoubtedly had the same level of dominance over other professional teams, this is largely down to Froome’s success, allowing Sky and Brailsford’s (Manager of Team Sky) philosophy to adapt with the success. In 2013 he stormed to victory on the infamous Mont Ventoux, 2015, out-climbing Quintana and hanging on to yellow in the final moments on Alp d’Huez. And, of course, in 2016 that manic top tube descent on stage 8 taking the whole peloton by surprise as he demolished the competition.

So, what about this year? Froome didn’t take a single stage victory and yet overcame his rivals to win. While people turn to doping accusations, or saying Froome used his teammates like Landa and Kawikovski to get a leisurely ride up climbs, his ability to chase breakaway attempts is ignored. He kept Bardet and Urán at bay from the day he took yellow, only losing the jersey once to Fabio Aru on the Col de Peyresourde, who would subsequently be dropped from the podium in the high Alps. He chased every break and stayed with Bardet and Urán to ensure that he lost no time. At every finish, he was sprinting to ensure that they did not achieve time bonuses at the line. He was the tactical genius his rivals feared; cold and calculating. Perhaps his most memorable moment during this Tour was arriving at the stadium in Marseille on the stage 20 time-trial. This was the moment Bardet and Urán had to take Froome once and for all. But it was not to be. Froome pursued Bardet all the way to Marseille, almost overtaking him at the finish, to the boos and jeers of the French crowd, resulting in valuable time gains on Bardet. Froome had pushed him so much Bardet was unable to walk after dismounting, with a photo famously capturing his defeated expression, staring into the oblivion of yet another failed Tour campaign.

While Froome may have come away without a stage victory, he was undoubtedly the victor not just in the results table. His place as a Tour Great should not be disputed. If he can secure another victory next year, perhaps with one of his signature summit finishes, or another top tube descent, he will earn his place as a legend.