• Giro d’Italia winner knows trying Giro-Tour double is a risk • People will come to understand ‘why I continue racing’, he says
Chris Froome says he is “sure” his historic treble of consecutive grand tour victories – sealed with a 46sec victory at the Giro d’Italia – will not be wiped from the record books despite an ongoing legal battle to clear his name following his failed drug test at the Vuelta a España in September.
Froome is also confident he will be on the starting line of the Tour de France despite the race director, Christian Prudhomme, admitting he does not want him there unless the long-running investigation into his salbutamol case is resolved.
Despite the Briton’s thrilling win, questions remain about whether a cyclist with an adverse analytical finding for salbutamol should have been taking part
Refreshingly, many of the new generation emerging in cycling are unencumbered by clear memories of the sport’s recent past. It is partly in that context that the reaction of the New Zealander George Bennett to Chris Froome’s Giro d’Italia winning performance on Friday en route to Bardonnecchia has to be seen.
Confronted with the news that Froome had held out over 80 kilometres over three mountains to take the overall lead, Bennett – captured on video by his Lotto-NL team’s social media people and by the website cyclingnews.com – could not hide his disbelief. “Did Froome stay away? No way. He did a Landis. Jesus!” His reference was to Floyd Landis’s astonishing comeback to win at Morzine in the 2006 Tour de France, which set up the American as, provisionally, the overall winner, until a positive test for testosterone was announced.
• Froome becomes first Briton to win the century-old race • First cyclist in 35 years to hold three grand tours at same time
Finally, 109 years after the Gazzetta dello Sport decided to hold a bike race across Italy to boost sales, Britain has its first Giro D’Italia winner. And while this was Chris Froome’s sixth grand tour title, following four victories at the Tour de France and another at the Vuelta a Espana, this was surely the sweetest.
Not everyone felt Froome should be racing given his ongoing legal battle to clear his name after twice the permitted levels of salbutamol were found in his system at the Vuelta. He also crashed before the first stage, and struggled for much of the opening fortnight. And even as late as Friday morning he was in fourth place, 3 minutes and 22 seconds behind. Yet somehow he found a way. Again.
Chris Froome coasted to a remarkable victory in a low-key final stage that was neutralised early on and won by the Irish rider Sam Bennett
Thanks so much for all your contributions, insight and humour over the last few weeks. We’ll do it all again next year. What a Giro its been – look out for much more reaction on these pages over the coming hours and days. I’ll leave you with a reminder of Sean’s report.
“It was great to be able to soak up the atmosphere in Rome, the monuments and the crowds, that didn’t disappoint. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet, I’m sure it will once I’ve got a bit of time to reflect. It’s just incredible to have three leaders’ jerseys in the space of 12 months, an incredible feeling – I’m still pinching myself, I can’t believe it.”
3rd win at the Giro for Sam Bennett after Praia a Mare and Imola. Now he is the most successful Irish rider in Giro’s history for stage wins, leaving at 2 Stephen Roche. #Giro101pic.twitter.com/clGMFMcdFF
Great Bennett stat …
Carapaz finished fourth, Pozzovino fifth. It’s been a wonderful, intensely fought three weeks. And what a scene to finish it.
He crosses with his Sky team-mates, arms aloft! It’s been a formality all day – but what a remarkable, fantastic achievement from the British cyclist, who is the first of his nationality to win this event! Dumoulin finishes second, Lopez third.
Froome will be in soon – he’s being cheered home by the crowds on either side and is enjoying a nice chat with team-mate David de la Cruz.
Stage 21 top three, then:
1 – Sam Bennett
What a final 500m that was, especially given Bennett was all alone and Viviani flanked by three team-mates. Such speed at the end there. And now we wait for Froome et al, who are I think about eight minutes away. Viviani takes the points jersey, by the way.
Well! Bennett timed it perfectly and burst through at the end! Viviani seemed to have just done enough but no, Bennett took it after a dashing late run! Brilliant stuff right at the end.
1km to go: Quick-Step have three men in front of Viviani and they’re going past the Colosseum one last time … three or four men in the hunt … possibly more …
2km to go: It’s anybody’s game now, this stage – Manuele Boaro is now in front, not long to go …
“Froome had probably been the most tested rider in the last six or seven years,” emails David W. “With the biologic passport and peeing in a cup 150/365 days a year, one spurious test for an approved inhaler which has virtually zero chance of improving performance as used becomes kind of silly doesn’t it? Can’t we just except he’s one tough man and a great champion?”
4km to go: Froome and company are a good 10 minutes behind, so we’ll finish in about 15 minutes I expect.
6km to go: Viviani is now back on his way, but the stage is being led by Mattia Cattaneo – we have a late break in which five riders are separated by seven seconds.
9km to go: We have four out in front now and Viviani has an issue, a chain problem I think, which has put him right off the pace!
12.5km to go: We have a sprint now, Juul Jensen and Kuznetsov not giving much until … now … when they’re absorbed in the pack. And now the game is on!
15km to go: Ballerini has won the “Combativity” prize, I believe. So many gongs up for grabs at a Giro!
A funny old Giro @NickAmes82. In other years, Froome’s ride should be one for the ages, and Yates’ rise/tragedy a Shakespearean one. But like many I’m not sure how I feel. Sky turned sour for me in 2017. Brailsford’s disdain for our intelligence & Froome’s AAF are a heavy cloud.
Keep your analyses coming, everyone!
21km to go: The stage winner surely won’t come from Juul Jensen and Kuznetsov, much as they keep the pace for now. Viviani is being tipped by the pundits on my telly but Bennett will give this a real go in the final lap.
23km to go: Miguel Angel Lopez, who will finish third, takes the white jersey, remember – that’s won by the best young rider, and the 24-year-old Astana rider has been massively impressive in this Giro.
26km to go: Nineteen seconds between the peloton and those two leaders, Juul Jensen and Kuznetsov; a further six minutes for the maglia rosa group. No more mishaps on Rome’s bumpy roads to report, thank goodness.
31km to go: The maglia rosa group are five minutes or so behind the lead. There’s no need to worry. This is all done.
35km to go: Juul Jensen is out in front of Vyacheslav Kuznetsov, with three laps or so left for them. Hearing that Pinot, by the way, is out of hospital but needs an extended period of complete rest. He’s on the mend but was in quite a bad way, pushing himself beyond the limit.
38 km to go: What are we thinking for the sprint showdown between Viviani and Bennett? It’s imminent, I think. Bennett sounded confident in an interview that was aired just now but Viviani has the whip hand …
40km to go: We have under four laps left, Froome is in a little group of his own that’s three minutes 20 seconds back, and the peloton is 32 seconds off the pace.
43km to go: Eugert Zhupa, the Albanian, won the last intermediate sprint – the final one of this Giro!
45km to go: Neilands has been overhauled, I think, by Chris Juul Jensen. Going at a fair lick there now, and we should be done in the next hour or so.
51km to go: Quick-Step are running the show in the peloton, and why not?
52km to go: A very strung-out, broken-up race now with a front group that wants to race and a remainder that really don’t.
56km to go: Bike change for Paolo Simion, but he’s back up and running. A few people getting some bumps and niggles as we go on now.
57km to go: Krists Neilands, a talented young Latvian, is currently out in the lead. And why not? It’s not exactly the most intense of occasions and it’s a chance to make a bit of a name for yourself for those interested.
64km to go: Around 20 riders in the break, I think, who are 46 seconds ahead of the maglia rosa gang.
67km to go: We have a possible casualty, it’s Alex Dowsett of Kapusha. Scuppered by the road, I think, but looks like he will be back up with a wheel change. Davide Ballerini took the first sprint there and will win the sprint competition!
“What a bunch of softcocks!” blasts Bernard Devoy in an excellent beginning to his email. “They ride Paris Roubaix and the Strada Bianchi, but a few cobbles in Rome cause them to neutralise the race and go for a training ride. I came here to watch professionals race! As I finished that sentence (I type slowly) the breakaway has started, thank god.”
From Andrew Mullinder:
“It’s been an amazing Giro, which has cemented its place as the best GT of the three – although the breaking of Yates and Pinot suggests they might have gone a bit too far with the course this time. Anyway, best and worst moments were the same: Froome’s 80km, swashbuckling solo effort to vault into the maglia rosa.
Darren Kendall wonders: “Is this the time we can start saying Froomey is a cycling great … he has to be! He was all but wrote off by everyone this past week. Sheer class & brilliance shone through … as for the cloud that hangs over him & Sky I think it will be put to bed … ! I don’t believe for a minute he would put his name, career & all he has achieved for the issue that hangs over his name! As for Sky questions may remain & maybe answers are needed.”
73km to go: This has been a borderline farce, really, and highly anticlimactic, but at least some pace is picking up now and we can get to the exciting part of the stage before long.
@NickAmes82 Even with the stage neutralised you have a still had more action than the Monaco Grand Prix.
Ha, yes, neither road race is particularly ripe for overtaking!
78km to go: The stage has been neutralised, so Froome is our winner, basically. Everyone has to honour the final few laps through and those who want to sprint will – there’s a bit of movement at the front of the peloton and we’ll see some sort of a break before long I think, the pace is quickening.
If you like your drama a touch more immediate, John Brewin is on hand with a football MBM – the second half of the League One play-off final between Rotherham and Shrewsbury is afoot, and Rotherham are winning 1-0.
82km to go: The Trevi fountain looks nice and blue.
85km to go: At the end of this lap the GC race will be neutralised – all times will stand. What was a formality for Froome is now even more so.
87km to go: We could make jokes about Roman roads here, couldn’t we? A number of potholes and issues with the course’s quality seem to be what caused Froome, acting as a spokesman for everyone else, to pass on the riders’ wishes.
88km to go: Yep, that seems to be decision made all round. If I were outside now, and more specifically in Rome, I’d go and sunbathe for an hour or two.
90km to go: “Apparently they were unhappy with the transfer from yesterday’s stage and now they feel the course has too many dangerous spots (according to L’Equipe tv channel),” explains Fiona Fallon. Thanks Fiona; I guess they want to make sure that any sprint takes place without endangering maglia rosa contenders or anyone else.
91km to go: News! The riders have been hot in discussion and Froome, having a chat with the course directors, is outlining their wish for a neutralisation once they get to 22km from home – two laps to go. That basically means that those final kilometres will be a straight sprint and the GC will be over. So if we’re patient and hold on here, we’ll have some fun in an hour or so!
94km to go: Now Viviani, who we expected to be sprinting later, is in lengthy conversation with Froome. They’re discussing a neutralisation – it seems like the riders are rebelling a little here.
Andrew Woods writes: “What’s with all the Yates praise? Overcooked TT , and early effort. Lack of nous, good young rider but not GC contender.”
96km to go: There seems to be a bit of disquiet about the course here, among the riders, with conversations being had with the organisers who are driving alongside. Nothing’s changed yet. I think it must relate to exactly when, and how, this turns from a saunter into an actual race.
Mike Barron replies to Tom Shaw, and I’m staying out of this: “British? Yes he’s great cyclist developed by Teams Sky and GB, but that was down to him looking at where he’d get the support he needed to succeed. He’s a Kenyan who lives in Monte Carlo …”
98km to go: Froome and Dumoulin have been having a nice old chat throughout this. All very brotherly here.
102km to go: Still looking for your Giro highs and lows – there’s not a lot of racing out there just yet. My highs and lows probably both centred on Simon Yates: what an effort it was from him, but what a shame he couldn’t quite keep it up. Is he a good news story the sport badly needs?
104km to go: For what it’s worth, the maglia rosa group are stationed 2min 25sec behind the leading party as we speak. They’re currently whizzing past the Colosseum!
107km to go: There was some talk that Dumoulin refused to shake Froome’s hand yesterday; that was total nonsense, it has been confirmed. It’s not really been That Kind Of Giro at all.
110km to go: On Froome, and any doubts surrounding that ride two days ago – does anyone really think that, after all that’s happened and been said and done, he and Sky would do anything that compromised them now? I really don’t; I think any insinuations are well off.
111km to go: Isn’t Rome lovely? I haven’t been since one of those endless-summer interrailing trips in about 2003. This is whetting the appetite for a return.
113km to go: I’m sure we will see some racing here later on but for now it’ll be very much a few processional laps. Froome is being sprayed with liquids, boozy or not, from the sides and is currently clutching a pink wine vessel. I’m not suggesting he is drinking wine, in fact he’s just handed it back. But that’s the celebratory vibe we are working with.
“Regarding Gary Todd’s comment on getting behind Froome,” begins Tom Shaw. “His sin, apparently, is to not have a ‘Personality’. Generally posted by people who would be screaming about what an arrogant tw** he was if he was anything other than the polite and inoffensive person he is. He’s by far the best cyclist Britain has ever produced and has a claim to be the top sportsman too.”
A reminder that your top three are (1) Froome (2) Dumoulin and (3) Miguel Angel Lopez, who capitalised on Pinot’s ailment yesterday. Richard Carapaz is 47 seconds behind Lopez but that’s going to be too much to alter the standings at the top.
In about two and a half hours we will, surely, hail Chris Froome as the first British winner of the Giro.
Froome speaks now: “I’m lost for words, it’s such an emotional moment for me being in the pink jersey going into Rome. An amazing, amazing feeling.”
Tom Dumoulin speaks about his team-mate Sam Oomen, who is ninth in the maglia rosa standings and has had a brilliant Giro: “He’s amazing, a young and cool guy, laid back and a similar character to me. When I was his age I was walking into the same issues as him, sometimes making the same mistakes. He’s a really cool rider.”
Christopher Brown writes: “Stage 19 one of the greatest solo rides of all time. Equally impressive stage 20, to not only hold off Dumoulin, but to have the legs and the courage to attack at the end and claim the win. Hat doffed, Mr. Froome, hat doffed.”
Yes, it was really expert stuff from Froome yesterday. I don’t really think Dumoulin had it in him to attack with conviction but, when he did try near the end, he was seen off in style.
I believe Thibaut Pinot, who had such a sad, unlucky day yesterday and ended it in hospital, won’t be taking part today. He had dehydration and a fever, and it’s just not worth taking the medical risk of going out there again.
Here’s an email from Gary Todd, sent to me earlier, reminding British cycling fans that they should get behind Froome:
“Three points I make to these people. Both himself and Sky have been extremely stupid and careless. That said he’s hardly been taking EPO. For him to withdraw from cycling until the process is completed would let his supporters down and I would have have thought would be in breach of contract with sponsors. If you love cycling and you are British you must be mad not to think he is the greatest British sportsman of all time. If that is the case then get behind the lad.”
It’s effectively Elia Viviani vs Sam Bennett in the points classification, of course – that’s the most up-for-grabs battle out there today. Viviani has 306 points and Bennett 232 … will that be turned around? Should be some fun sprinting out there todau.
So I’ll open this up now, and hopefully your emails will come flying in: what has been your high point in this Giro, and what about your low?
Hello! Here we are for the Giro’s last knockings – it’s the last day in Rome, if you will, and it’s also the day that will see Chris Froome crowned winner unless something very, very odd indeed comes to pass. He is 46 seconds ahead of Tom Dumoulin and this, remember, is essentially a procession today for a man on the verge of something very special and, yes, controversial in some quarters: 10 loops of an 11.5km circuit around some of your favourite Roman sights.
So we may as well relax and enjoy, particularly as the TV direction during this Giro has often tended to favour snazzy shots of the surroundings ahead of the actual action. And of course we can discuss the highs and lows of a remarkable few weeks. Get your emails and tweets in: today’s cycling begins in around half an hour.
His electrifying breakaway performance in the Giro d’Italia stunned the world
This was sport at its rawest, most thrilling, visceral best. For months, British cyclist Chris Froome has been battling for his reputation. His team, Sky, faces opprobrium for sharp practices and the alleged use of drugs. A shadow was cast across Froome’s remarkable four victories in the Tour de France. “Perhaps it’s not surprising,” critics muttered darkly. Then, last September, Froome failed a drugs test. He denies any wrong-doing and is fighting the case. But the muttering became a roar.
All year, he has been building up to the Giro d’Italia, the third of Europe’s grand races. If he won, he’d be only the third cyclist in history to hold the Tour de France, the Vuelta a España and the Giro at the same time. Many insisted that he should be banned from even taking part.