Belfast Telegraph

Chris Froome's Tour win inspired by late mum

AS Chris Froome raced on to the Champs-Elysees proudly clad in yellow, there was one wish that remained sadly unfulfilled: that his mother Jane, who died of cancer in 2008, was not there to see him do it.

"I'd give anything to see her smile with me coming into Paris, I know she'd be chuffed to bits," said Froome, who succeeded Sir Bradley Wiggins to become the second British rider in a row to win the Tour de France.

The Kenyan-born Briton also revealed that his mother encouraged him to quit his economics degree, for which he was studying in South Africa, to start racing in Italy in 2007.

Even now, he says, she remains a "huge inspiration and motivation for me to be as successful as I can on the bike. She always encouraged me to follow my dreams."

The Tour is one dream accomplished, but Froome revealed he has another for 2013: to win the world championship in Florence on 29 September.

"I'd like to try and see the season through and not just switch off after the Tour," he said.

"It's a good course for the climbers this year, which doesn't happen very often, and I've got to make the most of that.

"My focus has just been on the Tour up to now, but being world champion is probably the second biggest thing."

Froome completed his decade-long journey from the back roads of Kenya riding an MTB bike as a kid to the pinnacle of world cycling as he claimed his maiden Tour victory – and Team Sky's second in a row after Wiggins.

Froome's lead of five minutes and three seconds over second-placed Nairo Quintana is the biggest winning margin since 2004.

Neither Quintana nor Joaquim Rodriguez could challenge the 28-year-old. The man who arguably tried the hardest to meet Froome head-on, Alberto Contador, finished fourth.

There are three stage wins, too, in the bag for Froome – one of them on Mont Ventoux, France's single hardest climb, where Froome effectively made the Tour his to lose.

And even when he thought he would not have a chance of victory, in last week's time trial at Gap, Froome still won.

His domination was such that he came within a whisker of taking the King of the Mountains title, too.

If there was a chink in his armour, it was the uneven support from his Sky team-mates, beset with injuries since day one and making one important tactical error when they failed to anticipate a collective ambush by Contador's Saxo-Tinkoff squad on the flatlands.

In the set piece major challenges, the mountain-top finish stages and the time trials, Sky have been unmatchable.

Each time, Froome has gained a great margin on his main rivals, even when he had a rough day on Alpe d'Huez. And he is keen to do it all again.

"This success here has set an amazing platform for me," Froome said after his victory.

"The experience of everything I've done building up to here has really been a massive learning curve, as much as this Tour itself has been.

"It would be a shame not to carry that experience forwards and use it in future editions.

"It is hard to talk too far in advance right now, but if I look at my career now and at what my ambitions are as a pro cyclist, to come and target the Tour again has got to be my biggest goal.

"And to be able to do that year after year through your prime period has got to be my main focus.

"I'm pretty well balanced in terms of I can time trial pretty well, I can climb pretty well... I can't see what else they can put in the Tour that I would struggle with."

The man who stood closest to him on the podium, Colombia's Quintana, was just as impressive.

The winner of the final mountain stage, second overall and Best Young Rider would be an impressive enough debut for a 23-year-old, the first rider to stand on the podium of the Tour in his maiden race since Jan Ullrich in 1996.

Quintana is also the youngest rider to win the King of the Mountains jersey since legendary climber Charly Gaul in 1955. And Quintana is the first to net two second classifications, too, since a certain Eddy Merckx in 1969. Watch this space.

Froome, however, will not take part in the worlds' time trial, which remains the big target of Wiggins.

"It's a very flat course and will suit Brad better than me, so I will focus my energy on the road-race," Froome said.

Belfast Telegraph


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