One down for Tour de France winner Chris Froome, how many more to go?
Having crushed the opposition at the 100th Tour, the British rider is looking ahead. And the French may need to get used to hearing the British anthem ring out again and again on the Champs-Elysees. Froome’s prowess in time trials and on mountain climbs - vital for any modern winner of cycling’s premier race - plus his age, 28, and his hunger for more success give him the makings of a multiple champion. Rivals, be warned.
Hungry for more
“As long as I’m hungry for it, as long as I’ve got the motivation and the physical ability, I’ll go for it,” he said. “To come and target the Tour, that’s got to be the biggest goal and to be able to do that year after year through your prime period, I think that’s got to be what my main focus is on.”
“I can time trial reasonably, I can climb pretty well,” Froome added, in typically understated fashion. “I can’t see what else they are going to really put in the Tour that I would struggle with. So I would like to think that I can come back every year.”
Froome is a less flamboyant character than some of the other riders who have seared the 110-year-old race with their larger-than-life personalities.
Riders like five-time champion Bernard Hinault, France’s irascible “Badger” who liked to impose his will on the race, or Lance Armstrong, the cancer survivor with a childhood chip on his shoulder who tarnished the Tour with his serial doping, lies and bullying - which all caught up with him when he was stripped of his seven wins last year.
In the post-Armstrong era of suspicion, with many fans and critics now convinced that they shouldn’t believe what they see, Froome faced intense scrutiny and dealt adroitly with it. Unlike some other riders who cut short questions about doping and bristled, Froome said he was happy to discuss the issue that has so poisoned his sport. He insisted he rides clean and said he, too, feels let down by the succession of cheats.
He also argued that his success demonstrates that the anti-doping system - now among the most rigorous, invasive and sustained of any sport - must be working, because otherwise he wouldn’t be able to win.
“This is one yellow jersey that will stand the test of time,” he vowed on the podium Sunday.
None of 100th Tour’s podium finishers - Froome, Colombian Nairo Quintana and Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez - have failed a drug test or been directly implicated in any of cycling’s litany of doping scandals. That is a notable departure from the era of Armstrong, whose name has literally been crossed out of the Tour’s history book, and from many other Tour podiums before and since then. As for results that will be enduring, Froome said “I know mine will.”