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Chris Froome (32) claims fourth Tour and vows to win at 40

 

By Alasdair Fotheringham

Chris Froome's fourth Tour de France triumph was barely in the bag before the 32-year-old warned his rivals that he will go on trying to capture cycling's showcase event until he is nearing 40.

"I'd like to be here for the next five years, trying to win it, but it certainly doesn't get any easier," Froome, who recently resigned with Sky through to the end of 2020, told reporters after officially claiming victory on the Champs Elysses.

Froome completed the traditional procession into Paris to finish 54 seconds ahead of former team-mate Rigoberto Uran, with Frenchman Romain Bardet third, two minutes and 20 seconds down.

"It certainly doesn't get any easier. This year was the closest it's ever been for me and it's only going to get harder the next," Froome added.

With four Tour wins in his palmares, Froome is now 32, the same age as Spain's Miguel Indurain when he took the current record of five successive victories, back in 1995. The oldest Tour winner is Belgian Fermin Lambot, aged 36 back in 1922.

After previous victories in 2013, 2015 and 2016, Froome recognised that this year's course was the toughest one yet, but that "even though I was pushing to the limits, I always felt as if I was in control."

"Every year we'll have to try and adapt to whatever the Tour throws at us. This year certainly was the hardest for me personally, given the lack of mountain-top finishes and the [low number] of time trial kilometres compared to other years."

"It made it a much more cagey race between the main favourites, once we hit the climbs. We basically ended up following each other. Between us we were afraid to lay it all on the line in case things didn't go well and there wasn't a back-up opportunity to rectify it."

Froome recognised that after a poor time trial performance in the Tour's key warm-up race, the Critérium du Dauphiné, he'd needed to raise his game radically in that speciality.

"I realised my time trialling was an area in which I needed to put a lot of work in, and I'm glad I did because it was decisive in this year's Tour."

Froome denied that the turbulence that has surrounded Team Sky in recent months, mainly over the suspicions and question marks surrounding the performance of his former team-mate and predecessor Sir Bradley Wiggins, has affected his own Tour ride.

"No - it's something that really doesn't concern me and I'm not going to waste energy getting myself caught up in something that doesn't involve me."

"When you have a three-week bike race, especially one that's been this close for the Yellow Jersey, it's not something that's on your radar. It's just noise in the background."

"It's the same as a Frenchman going 'Boo' at the roadside - you hear it, but it doesn't stop you pedalling or going in the direction you need to go."

This might not have been the Froome of old, striking out on mountain top finishes to bury his rivals. This Tour required a different approach, but it was not without a hugely impressive climbing display from Froome.

On stage 15, a broken spoke threatened to derail his entire Tour, but after a quick wheel change from Michal Kwiatkowski, Froome paced his way back to the pack on the steep inclines of the Col de Peyra Taillade and saved his jersey.

That none of his rivals could attack at the moment Froome made it back spoke to the toughness of the climb, and the strength of Froome's recovery.

Perhaps if Richie Porte had not crashed out on the Mont du Chat, or Quintana did not have the wear and tear of the Giro d'Italia in his legs, it might have been different, but Froome's job is jus to beat those who turn up.

Belfast Telegraph

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