A year after Chris Froome came in second while helping teammate Bradley Wiggins pick up the win in the 2012 Tour de France, he now has a title to call his own. And it's a title impressive enough to be worthy of the 100th anniversary of this great race.
During the 21 stages and 3,404 kilometers, Froome had to overcome countless obstacles, and then his own fatigue as he held off a hard-charging field.
In the end, he wound up with a comfortable four-minute, 20-second victory over Colombian Nairo Quintana to become the second straight Briton to claim the crown. Quintana and Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez, who finished in second and third, respectively, made up some ground on Froome, but the winner was not going to be denied this year.
In the twilight of the closing stage, Froome wound up in 114th place, but that was largely academic. He had the championship in the bag at that point.
Froome sips champagne for the cameras pic.twitter.com/YI7KnJUK76— the Inner Ring (@inrng) July 21, 2013
He donned the yellow jersey after Stage 8 and never looked back, and it was a masterful Stage 8. In a ride up the Pyrenees, Froome put his climbing class on display by winning the 195-kilometer stage by 51 seconds.
The 28-year-old was not forced to ride while wearing any color but yellow from that point on.
He won three stages during the race, but perhaps his biggest statement came just days after his Stage 8 showing. In the Stage 12 time trial, Froome finished in second. For a man who has built his sterling reputation on his climbing prowess, this was a giant statement to the field that Froome was ready take the competition over.
He proved that the rest of the field would largely be battling for second with an epic Stage 15. Climbing up Mont Ventoux, Froome made grueling late passes of Alberto Contador and Quintana to show he was a pedal ahead of his competition.
Le Tour de France marked the occasion on Twitter:
Given the past scandals that have marred cycling, Froome was and is bound to come under the scrutiny of doping.
As CNN notes, Team Sky did their best to ease these concerns. The team gave data of 18 of his climbs since 2011 to French newspaper L'Equipe. As CNN passed along, Fred Grappe, the sports science expert for the paper, determined "the results were consistent with doping-free riding."
19: Number of doping tests for Chris Froome during #TourdeFrance. He wins but can't shake doping questions as first winner in post Lance era— Paul Waldie (@pwaldieGLOBE) July 21, 2013
I wouldn't expect this to erase the doubts in the minds of all skeptics, but the voluntary statement only helps add to his impressive run.
Froome was not going to be denied at this Tour de France, and he capped that off with a dominant and memorable championship. It was well deserved for Froome and fans of the sport.