Reuters

Chris Froome wins Tour de France as Dylan Groenewegen sprints to stage victory on the Champs-Elysees

Froome wins Tour de France as Groenewegen triumphs in Champs-Elysees sprint

23/07/2017 at 19:09Updated 23/07/2017 at 22:49

Britain’s Chris Froome of Team Sky safely negotiated the 21st and final stage of the Tour de France to claim his fourth yellow jersey in five years on the streets of Paris.

In one of the tighter Tours in recent years, 32-year-old Froome beat the Colombian Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) by just 54 seconds – the smallest winning margin in the world's biggest bike race in a decade.

Frenchman Romain Bardet (Ag2R-La Mondiale) secured the final space on the podium 2’20” down while Spain’s Mikel Landa (Team Sky) and Italian national champion Fabio Aru (Astana) completed the top five.

Froome took the yellow jersey from Welsh team-mate Geraint Thomas after the first mountain-top finish at La Planche des Belles Filles in Stage 5. Despite conceding the race lead to Aru after a wobble at Peyragudes in the Pyrenees, Froome won back the yellow jersey two days later at Rodez in the Massif Central in Stage 14 and wore it all the way to Paris.

Froome’s fourth Tour victory comes after his previous wins in 2013, 2015 and 2016. He becomes the fifth rider in history to win the Tour three times in a row after Jean Bobet, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain.

“I’m speechless – the Champs-Elysees in Paris never disappoints,” Froome told Eurosport. “Each time I have won the Tour it has been so unique – each one is special in its own way and this year will be remembered for the tight battle between the GC rivals.”

The final showpiece sprint on the Champs-Elysees was won by Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen of LottoNL-Jumbo ahead of Germany’s Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) and Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data).

Video - Groenewegen springs sprint surprise on Champs-Elysees, Froome clinches win

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Groenewegen, 24, opened up his sprint a whole three-hundred metres from the line but managed to hold off late surges from his more experienced rivals to win the first Grand Tour stage of his career.

Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Norway’s Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) completed the top five in the 103km stage from Montgeron – the suburb of Paris where the first Tour de France began in 1903.

The traditional procession to Paris began with Team Sky toasting the victorious Froome with a variety of tipples, before the racing began as the peloton hit the cobbles of the Champs-Elysees after a detour through the interior of the Grand Palais.

Video - Cheers! Chris Froome's champagne moment

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Despite never holding an advantage of more than 20 seconds, the strong break held off the peloton until the penultimate lap. Team Sky led the peloton through the Place de la Concorde and onto the final lap before Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana) and Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors) both put in brave solo attempts to break clear.

But it came down to a bunch sprint, albeit one devoid of Britain’s Mark Cavendish and Germany’s Marcel Kittel – two rivals with seven wins on the Champs-Elysees between them.

In the end it was youth which won out over experience as Groenewegen denied Greipel a third successive win in Paris despite the German veteran’s late surge. It was the first time in 12 consecutive Grand Tours that Greipel had not won at least one stage - in a run stretching back to the 2007 Vuelta a Espana.

Groenewegen launched his sprint as soon as the pack swung onto the home straight and was forced to ride into a headwind for 300 metres before finally punching the air in celebration.

With the peloton arriving more or less as one, there were no significant changes in the overall standings – or in the individual jersey classifications – on the final day of the race.

Ireland’s Dan Martin of Quick-Step Floors – who rallied after being taken out in the horrific crash that ended the race for Australian pre-race favourite Richie Porte (BMC) in Stage 9 – was a career-best sixth.

Seventh place Simon Yates of Orica-Scott secured the white jersey one year after his twin brother, Adam, was also crowned best young rider of the 2016 Tour.

South Africa’s Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates), Spanish veteran Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and Frenchman Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) completed the top the top ten.

Barguil, who won stages on Bastille Day at Foix in the Pyrenees and the historic finish atop the Col d’Izoard in the Alps, secured the polka dot jersey as king of the mountains. The 25-year-old was elected the most combative rider of the race – despite the daily breakaway exploits of the Belgian Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal).

Barguil’s Australian team-mate Michael Matthews – also a double stage winner – won the green jersey points classification after an intriguing duel with five-time stage winner Marcel Kittel of Quick-Step Floors came to an abrupt end when the German crashed out in the Alps.

Team Sky won the team classification while Welshman Luke Rowe finished in last place as the Lanterne Rouge – more than four-and-a-half hours behind his team-mate Froome. It’s the first time since 1964 that a team has had riders top and tail the general classification.

Froome's focus will now shift to the Vuelta which starts on Saturday 19th August. Three times runner-up, Froome has never won the Spanish stage race and will be a strong candidate to secure an historic double.

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