Chris Froome has claimed his fourth Tour de France title in Paris to win the world’s most famous race for the third consecutive time.
Froome becomes only the fifth man in Tour de France history to win three consecutive yellow jerseys, writing his name in the history books alongside cycling giants Louison Bobet, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain – the four other riders to have achieved the feat.
He now also stands just one behind the latter three and French legend Bernard Hinault in winning La Grande Boucle five times.
2013 – Froome's maiden Tour title
In the 100th edition of the race, Froome claimed his first Tour de France victory by more than four minutes.
A year after finishing second to Sir Bradley Wiggins – the first Brit to win the Tour – Froome stamped his authority on the race to finish comfortably clear of Colombian Nairo Quintana
Despite crashing before the start of stage one, the Briton won three stages in all on the way to his maiden Tour title, which he dedicated to his mother Jane, who died of cancer in 2009.
“Crossing the line with [the] guys brought tears to my eyes. I expected it to be big but this is something else,” said Froome.
“Without her [Jane’s] encouragement to follow my dreams, I’d probably be at home watching this event on TV.
“It’s a great shame she never got to come and see the Tour, but I’m sure she’d be extremely proud if she were here.”
2015 – Froome’s historic double
While a crash denied Froome the chance to defend his crown in 2014, he responded in style the following year to become the first Briton to win the Tour de France twice.
Froome’s ability to get over the cobbles had been highlighted as a possible weakness, but the Briton was one of the stronger riders on the cobbled fourth stage in northern France.
By stage ten he was already in the yellow jersey, and Froome blew the rest of the field away on the climb to La Pierre Saint Martin, the first mountain finish of the Tour.
Despite the sizable lead heading into the final week, Froome found himself under fire on a thrilling penultimate stage on Alpe d’Huez, with Quintana trying a long-range attack in a bid to steal the crown.
With help from Wout Poels and Richie Porte, Froome was able to maintain a 72-second lead over Quintana to secure his second title, while also becoming the first British rider to be crowned King of the Mountains since Robert Millar in 1984.
“We definitely had it from all angles this year and I think if anything it felt as though it brought us closer together as a group, it sort of gave us that feeling of ‘come on guys we’re going to dig in here, we are going to get through this’,” Froome said.
2016 – The triple Tour title
Froome claimed his third and arguably toughest Tour de France to become the first man to successfully defend a Tour de France title in more than 20 years, but the Team Sky rider was forced to battle all the way.
This Tour victory was characterised by Froome’s endless determination, intuition and grit. All three came to the fore when he famously ran up Mont Ventoux in his cleats on stage 12 of the race, following a motorbike pile up with Richie Porte and Bauke Mollema just over one kilometre from the finish.
“I told myself, ‘I don’t have a bike and my car is five minutes behind with another bike – it’s too far away, I’m going to run a bit’,” a frustrated Froome later said.
After holding off the challenge of Quintana and surprise challengers Mollema and Adam Yates in the Swiss Alps on stage 17, Froome cemented his title hopes with a second individual time trial win to build a commanding lead of almost four minutes.
And despite crashing again on the treacherous descent on stage 19, which forced him to borrow team-mate Geraint Thomas’ bike to ride the final 12km, Froome managed to extend his lead which he subsequently defended on a final stormy day in the Alps to set up a ceremonial ride in Paris.
“I can’t say the novelty is wearing off. It’s such an incredible event and to be in the yellow jersey is every cyclist’s dream and the biggest honour in our sport,” said Froome.
2017 – The closest Tour
The favourite once again coming into the race, Froome entered this year’s Tour in the unusual position of having not won a race in 2017.
That didn’t stop him quickly taking the yellow jersey, moving into the lead on stage five, taking over from teammate Geraint Thomas, who had held it after winning the opening stage in Düsseldorf.
While he would relinquish the jersey for two stages after a rare off-day in the Pyrenees on stage 12, Froome reclaimed top spot in Rodez on stage 14 and never looked back.
With less than 30 seconds separating the top three of Froome, Romain Bardet – the runner-up in 2016 – and Rigoberto Urán, until the penultimate stage, the Briton was never entirely at ease.
However he was able to resist the attacks on the Col d’Izoard on stage 18, before clinching the Tour with third place in the final time trial in Marseille two days later, ending up 54 seconds clear of Urán in second, his smallest margin of victory to date.
Now just one win away from the all-time record, Froome was only too aware of his place in history as he looks to join the likes of Merckx and Hinault in 2018.
“It’s a huge honour to be named in the same sentence as the greats of the Tour de France history,” said Froome.
“I’m just taking it one race at a time. I certainly have a newfound appreciation for just how difficult it was for those guys to win five Tours. It hasn’t been easy and this has been the closest title of my career.”