Fresh from second place at the Vuelta a Espana, Chris Froome reflects on another successful season.
2016 has seen Froome join an elite club of three-time Tour de France winners, and add another Olympic medal to his collection for good measure. A podium finish in Spain also extends an incredible run of Grand Tour consistency. Since the Vuelta in 2011, in all three-week stage races he’s completed, Froome has finished no lower than fourth position.
While a Vuelta victory remains elusive for Froome, his form in Spain, going toe to toe with Nairo Quintana, demonstrated that the tantalising possibility of a Tour/Vuelta double is achievable in the modern era. The last man to do so being Bernard Hinault in 1978.
With the dust settled on the race, and with it Froome’s final competitive outing of the season, the Brit put a memorable year into perspective.
“I’m really happy with how things have gone. I think if you’d said to me at the beginning of the season that I’d win the Tour, the Dauphine and obviously a few races in between there, medal in the Olympics, as well as being second in the Vuelta – I’d have definitely been happy about that.
“I couldn’t have achieved these results alone. It’s thanks to a lot of hard work behind the scenes from all the support staff of the team, as well as having a great team around me on the road in terms of my team-mates. It makes a big difference. We’re also very lucky with the sponsors that we have. The equipment that we use, everything from nutrition, to the bikes, the cars and clothing, makes a difference to us out on the road.”
When asked to pick a highlight from another career year, the 31 year old paused for thought before admitting: “For me the Tour de France really is the pinnacle of a racing career. So to be able to win the Tour this year was definitely the highlight to my season.”
Those celebrations in Paris now seem a long time ago, and since climbing off his bike on the Champs Elysees, Froome has had precious little time to rest or take stock. A relentless stretch of racing saw him fly to South America and the Rio Olympics, before coming back to Europe for three weeks in Spain that felt nothing like a holiday.
On the gruelling stretch of racing he added: “It’s been tough I won’t lie – especially on the back of the Tour de France and then going over to Rio for the Olympic road race and time trial. Then coming to the Vuelta, obviously I haven’t had much time at home in the last three months at all. It’s been a long time away from the family, but I’m really happy to have done the race.
“Of course I’d have preferred to have been on the top step in Madrid, but that’s racing. I gave it my best and I’ve got to be happy with that.
“One of the reasons that I enjoy racing the Vuelta a Espana is that the crowds are so great. The supporters and spectators cheer for all the riders, not just the riders from their country. It’s really special to see that.”
With Froome now returning home to his young family, after some richly deserved downtime, attention will quickly turn to next season.
On the potential of more Grand Tours next season, and even the Giro d’Italia, he added: “I’m always open to anything. I wouldn’t write (the Giro) off. But I think mostly important it’s about seeing what route organisers go with and see what takes my fancy.”
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