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PARIS (AFP) — Chris Froome said he felt “incredible” after winning his second Tour de France title following Sunday’s 21st and final stage to Paris.
The 30-year-old crossed the line on the Champs-Élysées linked arm-in-arm with his Sky teammates to clinch a second Grand Boucle crown following his 2013 success.
“This is such a great race. What can I say? I feel a lot of emotion,” said Froome after a Tour in which he was doused with urine, spat at, insulted and accused of cheating.
“Of course it was a very, very difficult Tour, both on the bike and off it. I’m so happy to be here in yellow. There were a few difficulties, a few extra stresses outside of the race, but that’s cycling in 2015.
“I’m happy to be in this position to speak for cycling today.”
André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) won the final stage, his fourth this year and 10th in total, ahead of Bryan Coquard (Europcar) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).
Top 10, stage 21
- 1. André GREIPEL, LOTTO SOUDAL, in 2:49:41
- 2. Bryan COQUARD, TEAM EUROPCAR, at :00
- 3. Alexander KRISTOFF, TEAM KATUSHA, at :00
- 4. Edvald BOASSON HAGEN, MTN-QHUBEKA, at :00
- 5. Arnaud DEMARE, FDJ, at :00
- 6. Mark CAVENDISH, ETIXX-QUICK STEP, at :00
- 7. Peter SAGAN, TINKOFF-SAXO, at :00
- 8. John DEGENKOLB, TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN, at :00
- 9. Michael MATTHEWS, ORICA GreenEDGE, at :00
- 10. Ramunas NAVARDAUSKAS, TEAM CANNONDALE-GARMIN, at :00
Top 10, GC
- 1. Christopher FROOME, TEAM SKY, in 84:46:14
- 2. Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:12
- 3. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 5:25
- 4. Vincenzo NIBALI, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 8:36
- 5. Alberto CONTADOR VELASCO, TINKOFF-SAXO, at 9:48
- 6. Robert GESINK, TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO, at 10:47
- 7. Bauke MOLLEMA, TREK FACTORY RACING, at 15:14
- 8. Mathias FRANK, IAM CYCLING, at 15:39
- 9. Romain BARDET, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 16:00
- 10. Pierre ROLLAND, TEAM EUROPCAR, at 17:30
On the overall, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) finished second to Froome at a minute and 12 seconds behind with teammate Alejandro Valverde taking third at 5:25.
“I’m not disappointed at all, I’ve confirmed my ability and my status within the team,” said Quintana. “I’m only 25 so I have many more opportunities to try to win the Tour.
“(Froome) is a great rival, he suffered a lot for his victory and was very strong — he deserves it.”
A wet, wild finale
Rain had rendered the cobbles at the finish dangerous so organizers neutralized the race from the moment it reached Paris.
It meant the official timing was stopped just after riders passed the finish line before beginning 10 laps of the famous Parisian avenue.
This allowed Froome and his teammates — wearing black kit with the traditional blue stripe replaced by a yellow one in homage to their leader’s feat — to finish side by side, more than a minute after the stage winner emphasised his sprint superiority at this Tour.
The 33-year-old Greipel had already won the second, fifth and 15th stages in sprint finishes, making this his best ever Tour, eclipsing the three stages he won in 2012.
“I’m looking forward to a rest now,” he said. “This Tour de France has been amazing for Lotto-Soudal. In five bunch sprints we won four of them.
“We can be really proud of this Tour de France. Next year is another … but now I’m really happy and delighted with everything that happened in these last three weeks.”
Greipel’s expected rivals, Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick-Step) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), could only manage sixth and seventh respectively on Sunday.
Sagan did win the sprinter’s green points jersey, though, for the fourth year in a row, despite not managing to win a stage for the second successive year.
Froome finished as king of the mountains — only the sixth rider to finish in yellow and the polka-dot jersey — while 25-year-old Quintana was the best young rider and his Movistar outfit won the team competition.