History for Froome as he seals third Tour de France title

Chris Froome has joined elite company by winning his third Tour de France in what was a magnificent three weeks for British cycling.

The Team Sky rider dominated throughout, claiming time on the descents, the flat, the mountains and in time trials to finish well clear of his nearest rivals, winning two stages along the way.

Still the Tour is the Tour and Froome’s victory didn’t come without drama. Going up the Mont Ventoux Froome gave us one of the enduring images after his bike was broken in a motorcycle crash and he attempted to run up the mythical mountain.

He was down again in Stage 19, finishing the last ten kilometres on the bike of teammate Geraint Thomas, but there was to be no denying Froome, who has now won three of the last four Tours to join greats like Greg Lemond, Louison Bobet and Philippe Thys with three Tour victories.

At 31, Froome looks the dominant rider in the greatest cycling race of them all, and the likes of Romain Bardet, Nairo Quintana and the rest will have to find new ways to challenge him.

But in typically modest fashion, Froome was quick to heap praise on his teammates, including fellow Olympian Thomas, for their support over the three weeks, as well as paying tributes to the victims of the terror attacks in Nice which took place during the Tour.

He said: “To my teammates and support team, this is your yellow jersey too, I wouldn’t be standing here if it wasn’t for your commitment and sacrifice.

“A massive thank you to Dave Brailsford and my coach Tim Kerrison, this is one special team and I am so proud to be a part of it.

“To Michelle, my wife and my son Kellan, your love and support make everything possible. Kellan, I dedicate this victory to you.

“This tour has taken place against the back drop of terrible events in Nice and we pay our respects once again to those who lost their lives in this terrible event.

“Of course these kinds of events put sport into perspective, but they also show why the values of sport are so important to the values of free society.

“We all love the Tour de France because it is unpredictable, but we love the Tour more for what stays the same – the passion of the fans from every nation along the road-side, the beauty of the French countryside and the bonds of friendship created through sport. These things will never change.”

But while Froome’s success has hogged the headlines, he was far from the only Brit to shine in La Grosse Boucle.

Mark Cavendish was absent from the Champs-Elysées as he prepared for Rio 2016, where he will be in action on the track, but he showed he has lost none of his trademark speed.

Back to his unbeatable best when it came to bunch sprints, there was no beating Cavendish who won four stages in all to move ahead of Bernard Hinault and into second with 30 stage victories in all.

Only Eddy Merckx has won more stages, and nobody has more victories on the road than Cav.

There was one more British stage winner, as Steve Cummings produced a trademark success on stage seven into Lac de Payolle.

In what has become a familiar sight, the Direction Data rider got himself into a breakaway, and then showed his strength to leave a group including former Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali in his wake.

Cummings will head to Rio to join the road race team along with Froome, and given his uncanny ability to emerge victorious when he gets the chance, he will be one to watch in Brazil.

Finally there was a groundbreaking performance from Adam Yates, who will also head to Rio, as he became the first British rider to win the white jersey for the best young rider.

The 23-year-old had not initially targeted the general classification in the Tour, but as time went on, he proved day after day that he was one of the strongest riders in the race.

A tough penultimate day in the Alps ended up costing him a podium spot, as Romain Bardet and Nairo Quintana just edged him out, but his fourth place certainly bodes well for the future.

And Yates admits that while he was pushed to the limits, he was thrilled at his overall result.

He said: “It’s not been easy these past few weeks, it’s been a lot of suffering but here we are fourth on GC and in the white jersey, a great honour and hopefully I’ll be back next year to do it all again.

“It’s been a great few weeks, I have been learning every day. At the start I wasn’t really targeting GC but we rolled with it when we fell into a good position. I’m learning every day and getting valuable experience for the future.

“Whether I can be a Grand Tour contender and target the win we’ll have to wait and see. I’ve shown in these past few weeks I can keep up with the big boys and I only had a couple of bad days so it’s looking good and hopefully we can do something in the future.”

The future certainly looks bright for British cycling, and Sir David Brailsford, general manager of Team Sky and the former performance director of British Cycling, admitted there was real pride in the performances over the last decade.

He said: “It’s been a great project to be involved in and all the Tours de France we’ve won.

“Chris is a phenomenal, talented guy. It’s been the best team effort we’ve ever had. The setting of the Champs-Elysées, it’s a great moment to feel a lot of pride.”

Sportsbeat 2016