Froome takes Tour de France hand-in-hand with team-mates
'This is one yellow jersey that will stand the test of time,' Froome tells those who question how he did it
FOR the second successive year, the Yellow Jersey belongs to a British rider. On a sultry Sunday evening in Paris, Chris Froome emulated the 2012 achievement of Bradley Wiggins by winning the Tour de France on the Champs Elysees.
And Froome did it some style, crossing the line hand-in-hand with his Team Sky colleagues after earlier brandishing a cigar on the final day of the 2013 Tour.
The show of team solidarity cut into Froome's overall lead as he dropped back to gather his team-mates, but he didn't care. Such has been the dominance by the 28-year-old Kenyan-born Briton that he still finished four minutes and 20 seconds ahead of second-placed Nairo Quintana in the final standings.
"I'd like to thank my team-mates, who have buried themselves day in day out throughout this Tour to keep this yellow jersey on my shoulders," said Froome in his acceptance speech, against the magnificent backdrop of the Arc de Triomphe as the Tour celebrated its 100th edition.
Marcel Kittel claimed the final stage of the 2013 Tour, nosing out Andre Greipel and Mark Cavendish in a dramatic sprint finish along the Champs Elysees, but this was a day that belonged to Froome.
"Crossing the line with the guys brought tears to my eyes," he told ITV Sport minutes after completing the 21st stage. "I expected it to be big but this is something else."
Froome's victory, by the biggest winning margin in 16 years, included three stage wins. It was his conquest of the notorious Mont Ventoux mountain the previous Sunday that saw off his rivals for good.
It also led some people to question just how Froome could win so emphatically, insinuations that he has patiently dealt with this last week. "I'm glad I've had to face those questions - after all the revelations of the last year," he said. "I'm glad that's been channelled towards me. I've been able to deal with it. Cycling has changed - the peloton is standing together."
Froome is the first African-born rider to win the Tour de France and in his acceptance speech he honoured his late mother for supporting him when he first began cycling as a young boy growing up in Kenya.
"Without her encouragement to follow my dreams, I'd probably be at home watching this event on TV," said Froome. "It's a great shame she never got to come see the Tour, but I'm sure she'd be extremely proud if she were here tonight."
Froome finished his speech with a message for all those sports fans still reeling from Lance Armstrong's confession that every one of his seven Tour de France victories had been down to doping. "This is one yellow jersey that will stand the test of time," he said.