Strongman Froome rides out many storms to triumph again

Sun Jul 26, 2015 2:24pm EDT
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By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - Chris Froome dug deep into his physical and mental reserves to claim his second Tour de France title on Sunday after three punishing weeks on, and possibly even more so, off the bike.

The 30-year-old Briton, who resisted Nairo Quintana's late charge in the Alps to repeat his 2013 triumph, endured a torrid race during which he was jeered, spat at and had urine thrown at him due to ongoing suspicions of doping.

Froome is not the first yellow jersey holder to be roughed up by the crowd -- Belgian great Eddy Merckx and French champion Jacques Anquetil were in their time -- but he faced a high level of scrutiny in a sport still reeling from the Lance Armstrong drugs scandal.

"Chris has shown his real mettle, the way he puts up with the abuse is unbelievable," Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford said.

"It’s unreal, we’ve been up against everything in this year’s Tour," said Froome, the first Briton to win the Tour twice.

A polite, softly-spoken character, Froome showed on the bike he could dig deep as he hung on for dear life during the penultimate stage to the iconic Alpe d'Huez in which Quintana sliced more than half of deficit on Saturday.

It was not enough to derail Froome as the Briton, giving Sky their third Tour title in four years, won the race by one minute 12 seconds, with Quintana's Movistar team mate Alejandro Valverde a distant third, 5:25 off the pace.

Froome, who also secured the polka dot jersey for the mountain classification, was already in prime position after the opening block of racing in which he was expected to struggle.   Continued...

From R-L, Team Sky rider Chris Froome of Britain, the race overall leader's yellow jersey, speeds downhill followed by Movistar rider Nairo Quintana of Colombia and Tinkoff-Saxo rider Alberto Contador of Spain in the Glandon pass during  the 138-km (85.74 miles) 19th stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to La Toussuire-Les Sybelles in the French Alps mountains, France, July 24, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard