Tour de France finale the wettest since 1998 as Froome celebrates with Team Sky

A wintry end to a tour that took the full three weeks to come to the boil

Chris Froome of Britain’s Team Sky celebrates his Tour de France victory in Paris yesterday. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

Chris Froome of Britain’s Team Sky celebrates his Tour de France victory in Paris yesterday. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

 

Rain at the Tour de France finish on the Champs Elysees is rare. Although the bulk of the soaking came during the early miles though the Paris suburbs, the peloton had not been this sodden during the tour’s grand finale since a depleted bunch splashed up and down the cobbles led by Marco Pantani and his team-mates at the end of the scandal-hit 1998 race.

Chris Froome’s Team Sky made special jerseys with a yellow dorsal stripe for the occasion, with matching shorts and crash hats, but had only their usual black rain capes to keep it all dry, so the new kit received an airing only when the riders reached the avenue.

The rain had eased somewhat, although the race for the overall standings was neutralised on the first passage of the finish line, meaning Froome had only to complete the 10 laps to win, no matter where he finished. He slowed with his team-mates to complete the final kilometre well behind the bunch, all eight riders lining up across the avenue arm in arm.

Froome’s postrace speech began with a list his team-mates. “Without you guys I would not be standing up here: this is your yellow jersey as much as it is mine.” After thanking other members of Team Sky, he said: “The maillot jaune is special, very special. I understand its history, good and bad, and I will always respect it, never dishonour it and I’ll always be proud to have won it.”

The sun came out for the final lap but the rain made for a wintry end to a tour that took the full three weeks to come to the boil, but then only for the 40 minutes it took to climb l’Alpe d’Huez on Saturday.

 

Late attacks

Asked whether he had any other moments of concern besides Nairo Quintana’s late attacks at the Alpe and La Toussuire the day before, Froome finally concluded he probably had not. Compared with his 2013 win, though, this felt far less secure, he said. In 2013, he had not approached the final climb on the final Saturday feeling victory might elude him.

 

As for Quintana, he could reflect on the fact a windswept road in the Netherlands, where he lost 1m 28s after missing out on a vital split in the peloton, had effectively cost him the tour; if Froome ended up “winning” the tour on day two in the Netherlands, that bore comparison with Vincenzo Nibali’s victory of 2014, forged on the cobbled stage in the first week. This is relatively new for the Tour, for so long decided at a few setpiece time trials and mountain stages among a wealth of transition and sprint stages, but now a race where almost any day in the three weeks held its own pitfalls. – (Guardian Service)

 

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