Chris Froome did not win the Tour de France on his own, but was backed by eight Sky team-mates to make an unbeatable combination that is the envy of rivals
Froome today will ride into Paris for his third Tour title, following wins in 2013 and 2015 and a second place and support role to Bradley Wiggins’s win in 2012. He crushed the field over the last three weeks to build a 4-05-minute lead over Frenchman Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) in second place.
“You don’t just win three Tours so easily,” rival team manager, Giuseppe Martinelli of Astana told Cycling Weekly. “To start as the favourite and win is not easy.
“He has the advantage to race in a team that is super. Super in everything: organisation, team-mates who are so strong, trained specifically for their role. I don’t know about other teams, but they do what they are supposed to do 100 per cent. All of it together, they are number one.”
Martinelli, when asked of Froome’s place in the history books, added, “It’s both of them together, Froome and Sky. It’s the package. They won those three together.”
Steven Roche won the 1987 Tour de France. The Irishman continues to follow the sport closely with his son Nicolas in team Sky and with his job working the Tour’s car sponsor, Skoda.
“We look at his cadence and all the smaller things, but the man himself, we are not talking about him,” Roche said one morning before a stage start.
“I don’t think he’s been given the recognition he deserves. It’s unfortunate, because the athlete doesn’t get the recognition in line with his performance. Look at how he copes. We can talk and joke about Mont Ventoux, but there’s one thing people are missing that identifies the man himself: coolness but also respect.
“He can see the win going away from him and he starts to run. He’s bike is broken, he realises it, and puts it up against a motorbike. He could’ve thrown it over the fence. He ran a few hundred metres, got the Mavic bike. It wasn’t suitable for him, but he saw his own bike coming up. He got off the Mavic bike and coolly put it gently against the fence and grabbed his own bike and rode it to the finish.
“That’s the way it should be done. Not like certain riders who throw their bike when the chains broken, 10 to 12 thousand euros over the fence!”
Froome not only survived Mont Ventoux, but attacked on a descent, rode free in the crosswinds and time trialled his way up the classification. His eight Sky team-mates set up or supported his moves.
“I read that he said without his team it would’ve been a different story,” Lotto-Soudal General Manager Marc Sergeant explained. “Sky for sure, made a difference. He’s been the winner since the end of week one, it was predicted, but Sky delivered him to victory.”
Froome travels to England for the RideLondon-Surrey Classic one-day race before leaving to Rio de Janeiro and the Olympics on August 1. He should race the Vuelta a España afterwards. Next year, he said the Tour, not the Giro d’Italia, would be his goal.
“Chris is going to be one of the all time legends of grand tours,” Dimension Data team manager, Doug Ryder said. “While he is going well, it is time for him to hammer down and to try to become an all time legend in grand tours.
“This moment in time and decade now is his. These individuals come around every other decade who are committed and loyal, and focused on specific objectives.
“He has another three our four years where he can bee massively successful, and Sky will continue to support him. His focus will always be the Tour de France. Maybe he’d race the Giro later in his career, but the Vuelta and Tour will be his objectives, I think. He wants to get five and then make a call after that.”
“I’d send him to the Giro one year, that would help him and the fans would love him for it,” Martinelli added. “I’d like to see him at the 100th Giro next year. He’d find even more affection in Italy. Italians would welcome him with open arms. He already lived there and he speaks Italian.”
“Sky may only want the Tour, but he should go properly for a Giro/Tour or a Tour/Vuelta,” said Roche, who won the Giro, Tour and Worlds in 1987. “The weather could be too much for him at the Giro, but the Vuelta is good.”