As I write this on the morning of the final stage, Chris Froome looks certain to win the 100th edition of the Tour de France after finishing 3rd in the penultimate stage on Saturday.
Froome leads the General Classification (GC) by over 5 minutes from his nearest challenger and stage 20 winner Nairo Quintana, with that unlikely to change with the procession into Paris, where traditionally the yellow jersey is not attacked.
“I can’t quite believe I’m sitting here in this position,” said Froome. “It really is amazing.”
Although he started the Tour as the favourite for the GC, the manner in which Froome has gone about his business with his Sky team has been very impressive. Incredible breakaway victories on stage 8 into Ax 3 Domaines and on the lunar landscape of the mighty Mont Ventoux on stage 14 really showed those riders, like Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde, what they were up against in their own pursuit to wear yellow – and it appears that, in the end, they just didn’t have the legs to match the Kenyan-born Sky rider.
Despite losing Vasil Kiryienka on stage 9 and Edvald Boasson Hagen on stage 12, not to mention Geraint Thomas riding nearly all of the race with a fractured pelvis, Sky have been able to minimise Froome’s losses when they have needed to, and on some stages has been able to gain some time on his closest challengers, and that includes stage 18 where he received a 20-second penalty for taking on an energy gel within the last 5km of the stage.
Froome will become the second successive British Tour winner, following Bradley Wiggins’ win last year. Having led since that breakaway win on stage 8, Froome hasn’t looked in any significant danger of losing his lead, helped in large parts by his Sky team, and particularly Aussie Richie Porte and Manxman Peter Kennaugh, who have metaphorically ‘buried themselves’ to be with him almost every step of the way, covering attacks and getting him into the positions he needs to be in, before allowing him to finish the job.
The only question left unanswered for this years Tour is whether Mark Cavendish can make it 5 successive victories on the Champs Elysees.
I hope he can. Allez Cav!