In an expected finish to the 2016 Tour de France on Sunday, Britain’s Christopher Froome emerged as the winner for the second year in a row. The 31-year old Team Sky Rider Froome also took the honor as the only Briton to have won the Tour de France three times after his first win in 2013. In another first against his name, Froome became the first rider to successfully defend his title in 20 years. In the final GC standings, Froome finished nearly 3 minutes ahead of Frenchman Romain Bardet in the world’s most difficult race. Colombia’s Nairo Quintana, who had finished second to Froome in 2013 & 2015, could only manage the third-place this year. Before the riders reached the finish line, thousands of British fans had already lined up along Paris’ most cherished landmark, the Champs-Elysees, where Froome was presented the traditional yellow jersey to an all-round applause. In another heroic success for Great Britain, 23-year old Adam Yates won the best young rider competition and thus became the first ever Briton to do so, since the award was introduced in 1975.
Chris Froome has ensured his place among Britain’s all-time greatest athletes by winning the grueling Tour de France for the third time on Sunday. In all 21 stages, Froome derived unstinted support from his Team Sky mates but his personal efforts were no less important. It was truly a show of grit, courage and determination through a distance of 3519 kilometers that covered several mountains and flat stretches. There was drama in between, where Froome bled through his jersey, borrowed bikes and went broke in squeezing precious seconds to maintain his lead. At one point, he had to run atop a mountain on foot after his bike broke and depended on the Jury’s decision before he was allowed to maintain his lead.
On Saturday, Chris Froome came unscathed from the 146.5 kilometer 20th stage that coursed through the last alpine passage on the tour. The riders started at Megeve and went through several climbs and descents before reaching Morzine. The last few kilometers were ridden in the tour’s nastiest descent. But Froome survived and held nearly 4 minutes buffer in the overall lead, going into the final flat run between Chantilly and Paris that marked the last stage on 2016 Tour de France. Most riders covered the 650 km distance between Morzine and Chantilly by air.
On Sunday, the riders rolled out of Chantilly quite relaxed since Froome’s victory had been taken as a foregone conclusion. They chatted amongst themselves and many had installed Go-Pro cameras on their bikes to record the moments. Froome moved ahead of the peloton, when he saw French cycling legend Bernard Hinault in the commissaire car in front of the cyclists. After flagging off the last stage, Hinault retired on Sunday to end his long stint with race organizers in ASO and Froome went for a hand-shake with the legend. Within 30 minutes from the start, the Team Sky members treated themselves to some beer in prior celebration of Froome’s upcoming victory. The race really got in the competition mode after the neutral zone for the first 15 kilometers. With 59 kilometers remaining, Team Sky headed the peloton and soon they entered Paris’ metropolitan sprawl. They rushed through Argenteuil, a suburb by the River Seine that made a big impression on painters. The backdrop also included Monet and Renoir; Courbevoie, which edges La Defense, a financial district festooned with eye-catching modern skyscrapers. Spectators had ample opportunity to snap the pictures of the riders before they began an 8-lap circuit of the central Paris Boulevard. They zipped past such iconic landmarks as the Arc de Triomphe, Le Louvre and Place de la Concorde before the last sprint finish along Champs-Elysees. Froome wisely avoided the competition in front for obvious reasons. His buffer allowed him to stay at the back and enjoy the last laps of the 3-week long event.
Germany’s Andre Greipel of team Lotto Soudal retained his 2015 stage-21 victory, which he stole from team Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff almost at death. Team Tinkoff rider Peter Sagan was second and Kristoff had to rest content with the third place. But the moment belonged to Chris Froome, who had covered the tour distance in a little over 89 hours. He entered the Champs Elysees with all his Team Sky members, locked in arms. The champion was met at the finish line with his wife Michelle and son Kellan and after much hugging and kissing, the celebrations began. With his third Tour victory, Froome joined a small band of elite cyclists and became the only Briton to be crowned as winner on three occasions.