Why Froome's remarkable comeback to win the Giro d'Italia was the most impressive Grand Tour victory of the year
Ranking yearly achievements can often be skewed through recency bias. Two British Grand Tour winners have come along since Chris Froome’s Giro d’Italia victory, making it almost seem a lifetime ago that Froome completed the GT set in late May.
However, the achievement of winning the Giro d’Italia was as much a testament to the mental strength to block out everything going on around him, as it was to his outstanding physical capabilities on the road from Israel to Italy.
Whether Froome should have been racing in the first place can be debated all day, but the situation he was faced with by no means helped him and, as he now admits in these pages, hindered his hopes with constant media and fan scrutiny throughout the season leading up to the Giro and during the race itself.
Usually his racing does the talking but this wasn’t a stereotypical Froome win. For two weeks he ground through sub-par stages, dropping out of the elite group and out of the top 10 as late as stage 13 — it looked as though Italy wasn’t for him.
The brutality of the Giro’s course and weather would claim Thibaut Pinot, Fabio Aru and Simon Yates as victims. Even as the race’s stellar line-up depleted, Froome still had to contend with defending champion Tom Dumoulin pushing him all the way.
Winning atop Monte Zoncolan was seen as a race salvaged successfully, but what was to follow five days later single-handedly took the race and cycling history by the scruff of the neck.
Cycling is built on romance and epic moments; Chris Froome and Team Sky have gained detractors for not living up to this mantra with their robotic approach. But the way Froome rode from Venaria Reale to Bardonecchia was anything but.
Riding away from his rivals on the gravel roads of the Finestre to take stage and overall honours will be one of those moments we only appreciate the magnitude of when Froome is no longer riding — the images will live long in our memories.
When you become the first rider since Bernard Hinault to hold all three Grand Tours, in 1982-1983, and when you consider that Eddy Merckx is the only other rider in history to achieve such a feat, you know you are in decent company and have done something pretty special.