We take a look back at a successful year for Chris Froome, who is number two in our 100 Best Road Riders of 2016 list
2 Chris Froome
31, Great Britain, Team Sky
2016 wins: 10
While it was billed to be the year in which Nairo Quintana finally overcame the Team Sky man, the Colombian failed to pose a genuine threat over the course of the three weeks.
Such was Froome’s superiority on the bike, the 2016 Tour de France will probably best remembered for the time when Froome wasn’t on his bike.
As the general classification battle hit the legendary Mont Ventoux, Froome was involved in what will go down as one of the most memorable crashes in Tour de France history.
At the head of the main contenders, Froome, Richie Porte (BMC) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) were attacking through the huge crowds – the throngs of people were forced down the mountain as high winds made the final kilometres of the stage impossible.
Racing towards the revised finish line, the trio were unseated when a motorbike was forced to stop in front of them; the three riders ploughed into the back of the bike and all ended up on the ground.
As Froome’s team car was behind the peloton, the Team Sky rider was forced to run several hundred metres up the hill until he could get a new bike.
The jog up Ventoux was arguably the most Froome was tested at the Tour. He dominated the mountain time trial to open up a four minute lead, having already put two minutes into Quintana and much of the rest of the field on the stage 13 TT in the Ardeche.
A bronze in the Olympic Games time trial in Rio de Janeiro was nearly followed by his second Grand Tour win of the year. At the Vuelta a España, though, Quintana found the form that deserted him at the Tour and beat Froome by just 83 seconds.
Once again, Froome put on a time trial masterclass on stage 19, clawing back two minutes on Quintana, but it was in the mountains where he couldn’t get away from the Colombian, consigning Froome to the second step on the podium.
My favourite rider…
(by Simon Collis, content director)
With two Tour de France victories already under his belt, no one could doubt Chris Froome’s quality going into 2016. Peerless in the mountains, exceptional against the clock, backed by a super-strong team, he had an air of clear superiority in the race to Paris… and yet was he, perhaps, a little robotic? Easy to respect, impossible to love?
This year’s Tour was when that changed. Unpredictable and desperate to seize the initiative, he repeatedly surprised the peloton: attacking on the descent of stage eight; stealing vital seconds in an ‘is-this-really-happening’ alliance with Peter Sagan on stage 11.
And it wasn’t all perfectly judged, either – he fell when unnecessarily pushing the limit on stage 19 and, most memorably of all, ran up Mont Ventoux without his bike in a moment of exquisite mayhem.
Add to this his determination to race without a break through the Tour, the Olympics and the Vuelta, and this was the year we gained an insight not just into an exceptionally strong bike rider, but a man determined to make history in his own style, without compromise or even a hint of fear.
What’s not to love?