Vuelta a Espana

Chris Froome receives his Vuelta a España trophy … nine years later

Chris Froome leaves 2020 Vuelta with a new trophy and motivation to return to try to win another one.

Despite finishing more than three hours behind Primož Roglič in Madrid, Chris Froome was up on the winner’s podium again at the Vuelta a España.

Why? To claim the overall victor’s trophy from the 2011 Vuelta.

Froome, who had finished second overall in the 2011 edition of the Spanish grand tour, was awarded the final victory last year after anti-doping officials stripped the title from Juan José Cobo for violations of his biological passport during a two-year period that coincided with the 2011 Vuelta.

Froome, back at the Vuelta for the first time since winning it outright in 2017, was officially awarded the winner’s trophy of the 2011 edition before the start of Sunday’s final stage at the Hipódromo de la Zarzuela on the outskirts of Madrid.

“This victory is truly special for me,” Froome said Sunday. “It was a very special race for me [in 2011]. That’s when I discovered within myself I could become a grand tour rider, and be a candidate to win them. That Vuelta gave me confidence to go the Tour de France, and to strive to win grand tours.”

Sunday’s final stage at the 2020 Vuelta was a special day for Froome. The stage marked his final race in an Ineos Grenadiers jersey after a decade inside the UK franchise before his high-profile move to Israel Start-Up Nation next year. And his arrival to Madrid also saw Froome complete his first grand tour since finishing third in 2018 Tour.

Froome, who is still battling back from a career-threatening crash at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné, said he learned that he had been awarded the 2011 Vuelta title just as he was coming out of surgery that summer in France.

“I have special memories of that moment, but also of how they had told me that I had won,” Froome said. “It was when I woke up a day after my big crash last year. I was in the intensive-care unit when they told me, ‘Congratulations, you’ve just won the Vuelta.’ It was a strange feeling.”

The back-dated Vuelta victory gave Froome an extra grand tour on his already burgeoning palmarès, which also boasts four yellow jerseys at the Tour de France and the 2018 Giro d’Italia, along with two Vuelta victories.

At least now he has trophies for all of them.

“The Vuelta is always a special race for me,” Froome said. “I hope to be here next year in better condition.”