Team Sky‘s British leader, who finished the last mountain stage in Morzine with a healthy 4-05-minute lead, says that the novelty of winning has not grown old for him and that he is still living a dream.
“I’ve won it three times, and I can’t say the novelty has worn off,” Froome said. “It’s such a big dream to have the yellow jersey. Iit’s an honour, the biggest in our sport. I hope to be back next year to fight again.”
Froome walked cooly into the dry press room after a wet ride to Morzine. Rain, and Sky’s force, nullified most attacks and Froome ended the last mountain day on top.
On Sunday, if everything goes to plan, he will become one of only four three-time winners, the last being American Greg LeMond. Only four others, the greats, have won more – five each.
“It’s amazing the feeling, it could be the first Tour all over again. Just the emotions getting down that last descent, making sure I didn’t put a foot wrong, just getting to the last kilometre,” Froome said.
“It was relief. Three weeks of putting everything on the road. Coming down today, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Tour de France stage 20 highlights
Froome’s early gains came from a hair-raising descent to Bagnères-de-Luchon. He made another surprising move by attacking in the cross-winds on the road to Montpellier with Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and team-mate Geraint Thomas. He then added to that in the two time trials and summit finishes.
“It feels like it’s been an absolute roller coaster,” he added. “There have been amazing moments where we took it on, the descents, the cross-winds and sprinting with Peter Sagan. Things like that. You can’t scrip those moments. It’s bike racing at it’s best. It feels incredible to be a part of that and to shape this year’s Tour de France in that way.”
Froome’s Tour nearly looked to come unhinged when he crashed on Mont Ventoux and on Friday, on the wet descent leading to Saint-Gervais. He admitted that it could have gone either way even if he had a healthy lead.
“When I hit the ground, I was in pain [on Friday],” Froome said. “[On Friday] evening, I was mentally drained. I actually slept quite well.
“That’s why I keep saying to people when they ask, it’s just not over until you cross that final finish line. Just in a blink of an eye, things can turn around and you can be on the back foot.”