The Team Ineos (formerly Team Sky) rider’s Giro d’Italia 2018 win puts him in an exclusive club with Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault – being just the third cyclist to have been defending champion at all three Grand Tours in one year.
He hasn’t (yet) managed to match the likes of Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, who all have five Tour de France wins to their name – having come third in the 2018 edition behind team mate Geraint Thomas and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb).
The drug is used to treat asthma, which Froome has suffered with from childhood. An athlete is allowed to use 1,600 micrograms of salbutamol in a 24-hour period without a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) – but Froome’s blood reportedly contained 2,000 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml) – twice the permittable limit of 1,000 ng/ml.
On July 2 2018 the UCI announced the Froome had been cleared of the AAF – following consideration of evidence from its own experts and those at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). This leaves his Vuelta 2017 title intact and allowed him to ride the 2018 Tour de France.
Froome had planned to ride the Tour in 2019, but a serious crash during a Critérium du Dauphiné recon ride knocked him out of contention. Since the crash and after several operations, he rode the 7th edition of the Saitama Criterium and has attended early season training camps with INEOS.
While he sat out of the 2019 Tour de France, Froome still managed to add a seventh Grand Tour title to his palmarès.
After 2011 Vuelta winner Juan José Cobo had his victory disqualified after the UCI banned him for a doping violation, Froome was awarded the victory, having finished second on GC that year.
Whilst the media has expressed doubt over his ongoing recovery, Froome and team director Brailsford have both expressed confidence in his progress and ability to compete for the 2020 Tour. The Olympics are also set to be a major goal for the Brit in 2020.
Froome is set to return to racing at the UAE Tour in February 2020 having returned to full training earlier in the year.
However, still faces an uphill battle to winning a record-equalling fifth Tour de France victory. Brailsford announced that as it stands Ineos will head to the French Grand Tour with Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal as co-leaders. A decision of Froome’s inclusion in the squad will be made at a later date.
Chris Froome’s early career
Chris Froome was born in Kenya and schooled in South Africa, swapping to British nationality in 2008, just after the Beijing Olympics. British Cycling officials had identified him in early 2008 when they learned of his British family and saw his talent. At the time he was riding for Barloworld.
Despite frantic efforts, and Froome’s existing dual nationality, they weren’t able to get a release form from the Kenyan cycling federation (with whom he was registered) in time for Froome to ride the road race at the Beijing Olympics.
Froome has been with Team Sky since the start in 2010, but endured a torrid first two years. In fact, Froome was almost dropped from the team, but finally came good at the 2011 Vuelta a Espana where he finished second.
As the race went on, and Froome’s full abilities were finally on show, Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford was so desperate to re-sign Froome he flew out to Spain on the Murdoch private jet with a new contract in hand.
It was a wise move by Brailsford as he secured the services of the man who looks set to be a dominant feature at the Tour de France for years to come.
Chris Froome’s key results
Tour de France 2013
Having played second-fiddle to Bradley Wiggins in Team Sky and Great Britain’s debut Tour de France victory, with Froome finishing second, 2013 was his time to shine.
Given the role of team leader, Froome took the race to his rivals at the very first opportunity he could. Stage eight featured the first summit finish, Ax 3 Domaines in the Pyrenees, and Froome disposed of both Alberto Contador and Richie Porte, finishing 50 seconds ahead of the rest of the field to take yellow.
Having increased his lead during the stage 11 individual time trial to Mont-Saint-Michel, Mont Ventoux presented the first of the final week’s challenges.
With 4km to go up the iconic Tour climb, Froome had only Nairo Quintana left for company, as Contador and Vincenzo Nibali chased behind.
Froome finally attacked the Colombian with 1.3km to go to take the stage win and take a big step towards securing his first Tour de France victory, eventually finishing 4-20 ahead of Quintana.
As we know, this first win only gave Froome a taste for success, going on to win three more French Grand Tours in the next four years.
Giro d’Italia 2018
After victory at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España in 2017, the 2018 Giro d’Italia posed an opportunity for Froome to do what only Eddy Merckx and Bernhard Hinault had done before him – be the defending champion of all three Grand Tours at once.
Things hadn’t gone to plan, though, and despite an impressive win on stage 14 by stage 19 he was fourth on GC and more than three minutes behind race leader Simon Yates.
However, with 80km to go Froome took his rivals by surprise, launching a solo attack on the foothills of the Colle delle Finestre, the highest peak of the race that year.
He then time-trialled the remainder of the stage on his own, and in what is considered one of the greatest comebacks in modern cycling history, he crossed the line three minutes ahead of the next rider, securing himself the pink jersey and his trio of victories.
This Grand Tour victory is Froome’s most recent, having finished runner-up to team-mate Geraint Thomas at the 2018 Tour de France.