Chris Froome, not Bradley Wiggins, won Great Britain’s first Grand Tour – the 2011 Vuelta a España due to a legal ruling – but for Team Ineos “it doesn’t feel like it.”
With Juan José Cobo’s anti-doping confirmation on Thursday, Froome officially stepped from second to first overall and Bradley Wiggins from third to second. Beforehand, Wiggins had been the first British Grand Tour winner with the 2012 Tour de France victory.
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“Yes, I guess it is [Britain’s first Grand Tour win]. but it doesn’t feel like it in a way,” Ineos boss David Brailsford told Cycling Weekly.
“There’s no need to over-analyse it, it is a bit off a strange one. We never celebrate it, it didn’t feel like a victory at the time, but we were pretty pleased with two guys on the podium, and it felt like a breakthrough moment.
“You never know, you change all of that and maybe the rest wouldn’t have happened. I’m happy with what we got.”
Froome went on to win the Tour de France four times, the Vuelta in 2017 and the Giro d’Italia in 2018.
Mauro Gianetti, then general manager at Cobo’s Geox team, would not comment on the issue. It is believed the team were nervous at the time, but was unable to do anything to stop Cobo.
Spaniard Cobo, 38 now, rode through 2014 but never won again.
Froome is currently sitting out the 2019 Tour de France due to a broken femur, ribs and elbow suffered in June.
“It was a breakthrough tour for us with second and third on the podium, it confirmed, we thought, it gave us the believe that we could go and try to win. It was close in the end between Cobo and Chris,” said Brailsford.
In Madrid, Froome won by 13 seconds over Cobo and 1-39 over Wiggins.
“I haven’t thought about [celebrating], actually. It’s just a bit of a strange one in terms of how to react. I don’t think anyone will be jumping up and down,” continued Brailsford.
“It’s like a technically victory. In a victory, you can enjoy the moment and then reflect on it and enjoy how it happened. But it is a strange one. In the here and now, it’s great for Chris, but we have other things to focus on, a few things a bit more pressing.”
Brailsford spoke in Toulouse, start of stage 12 of the 2019 Tour de France. Geraint Thomas (Ineos), the 2018 Tour winner, sits second overall as the race enters the Pyrénées.
Froome said in a statement released by Team Ineos that the Vuelta victory was extra special as it was Britain’s first Grand Tour win.
“The Vuelta in 2011 was in many ways my breakthrough race, so this red jersey is special for me,” Froome said.
“I guess it’s extra special too, because – even though it’s eight years on – it was Britain’s first Grand Tour win. The Vuelta is a race I love and I have always felt a great connection with it and the Spanish fans.”