Resplendent in yellow and riding a canary yellow bike, Chris Froome won his second Tour de France in three years on Sunday, with a leisurely pedal into Paris to wrap up a spectacular three-week slog of furious racing that culminated with a thrilling late fight-back by the British rider’s toughest rival, Colombian Nairo Quintana.
Cheered on the Champs-Elysees under suitably rainy skies for Britain’s third win in the 112-year-old race, Froome took it easy on the last Stage 21, his work done having grimly resisted Quintana’s last-ditch assault on his hard-won Tour lead the previous day on the final Alpine ascent.
Just as when Froome first won in 2013, Quintana was again runner-up, although the margin between them is much smaller this time.
Third-placed Alejandro Valverde, Quintana’s Movistar teammate from Spain, made the podium for the first time, moving up from fourth last year.
On rain-soaked roads that caused numerous spills in the women’s race on the Champs-Elysees before the men rode in, the tired riders didn’t bother racing for much of the largely flat 110-kilometer (68-mile) final stage from Sevres, in the French capital’s southwest.
To minimize the risk of crashes, Tour organizers stopped the race clock early, on the first of 10 laps up and down the Champs-Elysees’ slick cobblestones.
That locked in Froome’s Tour lead to guarantee his victory, generating a broad smile as he rode up the avenue lined with flag-waving spectators. He still had to ride the 10 laps to complete the full race distance, but could do so without nerves, knowing the title was his. He didn’t have to panic when a paper bag got stuck in his back wheel. He simply stopped and changed bikes.
Froome and his teammates finished together linked in a line, their arms over each other’s shoulders, with the yellow jersey winner grinning in the middle.