Chris Froome‘s victory in the 2017 Tour de France, sealed with third place in stage 20’s time trial on the streets of Marseille, is the best of the Brit’s four titles, according to Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford.
Froome won in 2013 after placing second while working for Bradley Wiggins in 2012. He backed it up with wins in 2015 and 2016, and, assuming all goes to plan in the Paris stage on Sunday, 2017 too.
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“This was probably the best in terms of how he rode, the difficulties presented and the way the team rode,” team boss David Brailsford said. “He made it clear at the start, it was going to be the toughest one for him to win.”
This year’s route with only three summit finishes, many flat days, and limited time trials made life difficult for Froome. He also decided to come in slightly off form to arrive at his best shape in the third week. Some say that this is also so he can carry his form to the Vuelta a España next month.
“Today’s stage felt like [stressful], but I remember feeling pretty stressed when Nairo Quintana was riding up Alpe d’Huez and Chris had a bad chest [cold], that was a long day as well!” Brailsford said, referring to the final summit finish of the 2015 Tour.
“The thing about this Tour… I’ve been thinking about it, the fact that we took the yellow jersey on the first day made it a very long race. And it has been so close throughout the race that it made a very tense race, so in that sense, it’s been the most difficult three weeks that we’ve raced.”
Froome began the Tour, unlike in previous years, without a win in the early season. Many speculated that he was not at his best, and those voices became louder after he lost 22 seconds and the yellow jersey to Fabio Aru on the stage to Peyragudes.
“He didn’t have the racing miles maybe, things didn’t go his way, he got sick, Romandie didn’t go to plan, but he’s been working a long time with [coach] Tim Kerisson and becoming confident with what it takes.
“He doesn’t need to win anymore to get that confidence. He had that trajectory where you hoped he was on track, but I’m not going to lie, in the Dauphiné, I thought, ‘I hope we got this right!’ “