Chris Froome seals jersey Vuelta a España title to win

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Chris Froome made history in Madrid on Sunday night when he became the first rider to win the Vuelta a España and Tour de France in the same year since Bernard Authentic Matt Moore Womens Jersey Hinault in 1978.He also became the first Briton to win the event, the first Briton to win a major Tour other than the Tour de France, and the first cyclist to take the double since the Vuelta was moved to late season in 1995.
Froome’s fifth Grand Tour victory – he has won the Tour de France four times – puts him among the sport’s greats and the 32-year-old has admitted he is now contemplating a possible tilt at the world time trial championship in Norway later this month. He will then wait to see the routes for next year’s Grand Tours before any putative attempt at a truly unique grand slam of Tour, Vuelta and Giro d’Italia within 12 months.Asked on Saturday if he felt that all this might be enough to earn him a place on the short list for the BBC’s sports personality of the year, from which he was absent in 2016 even after joining the exclusive club who have won three Tours de France, he replied that he was “not holding my breath”. He is second favourite with bookmakers for the BBC award behind the boxer Anthony Joshua but the shortlist has not yet been announced.
Froome was confirmed as the winner when the Vuelta finished on Madrid’s Paseo della Castellana, with a bunch sprint won by Matteo Trentin of Quick-Step. Froome finished 2mins 15sec ahead of Vincenzo Nibali on the general classification. Froome’s 11th-place finish on the final stage meant he also won the green points jersey and the “all-rounders” white jersey. Reflecting on his achievement, Froome said that he felt the 2017 Vuelta, with its plethora of mountain-top finishes and constant tension, had been a tougher race than this year’s Tour. “Not even the Tour was like this. There were a couple of transition days in the Tour when it was more relaxed but here it’s just felt like everyone is on that physical limit. Every day someone has gone full gas” – most often Alberto Contador in search of a valedictory stage win and podium place - “and they did expose me at las Muchacos.”On Wednesday’s tough goat-track finish in Asturias, the eventual winner conceded he had been “very vulnerable. I was flat from the [previous day’s] time trial. I’d spent a lot there. Not having so many time splits I was really worried and pushed harder than I should have, and the next day I was flat, empty.”
In the immediate future, Froome is likely to fly to Norway for next week’s world road race championships in Bergen. The chance of his riding the team time trial Johan Franzen Youth Jersey for Sky is “extremely high” although a decision is to be taken on his participation in the individual time trial most probably on Wednesday or Thursday. “It depends on how I am feeling. I’ve not looked at the course up close. It’s mainly flat, then up a steep ramp to finish. It’s a profile I like, which gives me a bit of hope.”As for 2018, there is speculation that he may attempt a “grand slam” of all three major Tours by racing the Giro d’Italia, but it is something that he is keen to play down due to the risk of compromising his bid to win a fifth Tour de France. “It’s a difficult balance, a trade off. If we look at how we managed this year, Tour and Vuelta with less than four weeks between the two that’s a massive challenge.
“I’ve felt stronger on the climbs in the Vuelta than I felt in the Tour so that does give me hope that it might be possible. It is a risk because [in] the second Grand Tour you are always going to be on a knife-edge physically. It’s something I’ll have to cross when we get the routes. To win a fifth Tour would be the golden prize for me.”Froome added that he knew before he attacked his rival Nibali in the final kilometres of Saturday’s stage finish on the Alto de Angliru that his Vuelta title was as good as in the bag. “As soon as I saw Nibali fighting it a little bit, those emotions started – ‘I’ve got this now unless something drastic happens’ – and then we didn’t want to stop there.”In the rainy conditions on Saturday, he said he had been more nervous about the risk of crashing on the greasy descents than he had of losing time on the Angliru. “It doesn’t get much worse than the Angliru [but] I was more afraid of the descent before given I wasn’t prepared to take risks. On the second descent Alberto [Contador] and [Jarlinson] Pantano started pushing it. Nibali tried accelerating after them, he slipped out and went under a barrier. I was like, in the position I’m in I’d rather give them 30 seconds, save the team around me. We knew there was a lot of headwind on the climb so having a team on the lower slopes was beneficial.”Froome’s Sunday in the red Vuelta leader’s jersey in Madrid concluded 17 stages defending the lead in the race, following closely on from 15 days in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France.


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