After his third Tour de France victory, Chris Froome has reflected on his place in the greats cyclists of all time and said that he wants to keep trying to win the biggest event in cycling for another 5 or 6 years.
Four riders have taken more editions than Froome will target trying to join Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain as five time champions.
“I’d say for now my focus for now is definitely on the Tour de France, given it is just such a special race,” the Briton said. “It would be my dream to keep coming back to the Tour de France for the next five, six years, if I can, to be on the start line and to give it the best shot. To give myself the best opportunity to fight for victory again.
“I have now won it three times and I can’t say that the novelty is wearing off. It is just such an incredible feeling, it is such an amazing event. It is the biggest event we have on our calendar and to be here in the yellow jersey, taking it to Paris tomorrow, is just every cyclist’s dream.
“It is the biggest honour there is in our sport and I hope I can be back next year to fight for it again.”
Because of that focus, Froome said that he would sooner have a tunnel vision approach on the Tour rather than looking at the other three week races as major goals. He’s not ruling out riding them, but makes clear that July is, and will remain, his big annual focus.
“I might do the Vuelta this year. As it stands right now, I think with my focus being on the Tour it is very difficult to commit to the Giro,” he said. “I really do think it is very difficult to back up two Grand Tours in a row like that. Obviously I will be giving a lot of thought into if I will be doing the Vuelta or not this year.”
“I am not about to start targeting all the Classics the way Eddy did. But obviously I am going to the Olympics now. Obviously it would be amazing to get a result there.”
“Times definitely have changed and I think with it being so much more competitive now, it is harder to stay at the top for the duration of the whole season when you have got guys targeting specific events and really training specifically for specific events.
“It is obviously an honour to even be talked about in the same circle as those guys. I am going to keep doing my best.”
Froome gained time on many of his rivals in the mountains, on descent, on flat and won the stage 18 Megève time trial. Of those, he selected one as the standout.
“I think for me the one I enjoyed the most by far was winning on the descent into Luchon. That to me really epitomised what racing is all about. I really did feel like I was a kid again, trying to stay away from my mates behind me and being the fastest one down the hill.
“At the end of the day that is what bike racing is all about. For us it is that thrill, it is that boy racer mentality. That is a special stage for me in this year’s Tour de France.”
“It feels like it has been a rollercoaster. And absolute rollercoaster. I mean, there have been amazing moments where it feels as if we have really taken on the race and made the racing.
“The descent I won, for example. And the race in the crosswinds and sprinting with Peter Sagan. Things like that. You just can’t script moments like that. You can’t even plan for them. It is bike racing at the best. It feels incredible to have been part of that and to have shaped this year’s Tour de France in that way.”
Part of Froome’s dominance was the failure of his main rivals such as Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) to mount as strong a challenge.
“My thoughts on Nairo’s ride here in the Tour de France…I have seen him obviously stronger in the past. The Tour I won in 2013 and the Tour I won last year, 2015, he pushed me right to the end. I feel that this year he maybe wasn’t quite at his best, for whatever reason, but I have got no doubt that he is going to be back next year with the same hunger to fight for the victory.”
“It is unfortunate that Alberto crashed on stage one and he wasn’t part of this battle this year. I always say that it is the best thing for the sport that we have the rivalry and we have a big battle for the yellow jersey. Even though I have come here with a four minute advantage, it still feels as if every day was a new challenge, a new fight. I don’t feel as if it is any easier in that regard.”
In the absence of his pre-race main rivals in peak form, Romain Bardet stepped forward and ended in a stunning second place overall.
“I think Romain has ridden an extremely good race this year,” said Froome. “He was second to me in the Dauphiné also. How he has ridden, he has been very strong in these last few days. He has obviously thought about his effort in these three weeks. I think it is a great thing for French cycling that he is on the podium in second position. I imagine it is going to give him a lot of motivation to come back next year and fight for the victory.”
“I think I have definitely grown to appreciate the history of the sport a lot more,” he said, asked about his place in cycling history. “Being in the position that I am in now and just understanding how tough it is to win a race like the Tour de France, let alone win back to back editions and to be a three time – well, hopefully, once I get to Paris tomorrow – winner.
“I don’t really want to say it [now] but to be a three time winner of the Tour is going to be incredible, absolutely incredible. It is beyond what I could have ever dreamed.”
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