PARIS (AFP) — Chris Froome on Sunday set his sights on a fifth Tour de France victory in 2018, which would move him alongside legends Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault, and Miguel Indurain as a five-time winner.
“It’s a huge honor to be talked about in the same sentence as those guys with their place in the history of the Tour de France,” said 32-year-old Froome after winning the 2017 edition of the Tour.
“It is just a privilege to even be in the position to be going for that kind of record.
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“Each time I’ve won the Tour it’s so unique and so different and it is such a different battle to get to this moment.
“So they’re all special in their own ways, and this year I think will be remembered for being the closest and most hard-fought battle between the GC rivals.”
First off, however, was a Froome family celebration after being reunited with his wife and young son in Paris on Sunday.
“It’s amazing to see them again. It feels like more than a month on the road,” said Froome. “Definitely a celebration is overdue. I’m looking forward to it.”
Froome had already toasted with a glass of champagne on the road during Sunday’s stage 21 of the 104th edition of the Tour, a 103-kilometer run from Montgeron to Paris.
The stage was won by young Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), denying German veteran Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) a hat-trick of wins on the Champs-Élysées.
Having won in 2015 and again last year, Greipel left his charge until too late and came up short of Groenewegen’s winning sprint.
“I was in the position I wanted to be in the corner, but maybe I should have gone a bit earlier,” admitted Greipel, whose team failed to win a Tour stage this year.
“Groenewegen made a really strong sprint. It was a headwind and in the end maybe the race was five meters too short.
“Of course, I am not happy and the team is not happy that we didn’t win a stage and now we have to look forward.”
Groenewegen said he picked the right wheel to follow into the sprint.
“To win on the Champs-Élysées makes it a perfect day. We’re only five riders in the team but it was enough today,” the 24-year-old said.
“They did a great job. They put me in a good position, on the wheel of Alexander Kristoff, and then I rushed to the finish line.”
For Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac), finishing second to Froome was a reason to celebrate.
No one before in any of Froome’s previous Tour victories had finished within a minute of the dominant Briton. Uran was 54 seconds back.
“I’m delighted, it’s emotional, the fruit of many years of dedication, hard work, and effort,” said the 30-year-old Colombian.
“Today is the recompense. I feel like I’m flying. It was a great race against a rival like Froome. Now’s the time to make the most of it.
“My message to the people of Colombia is to work hard — things come to those who work hard, are dedicated, and try.”