Kelly: Chris Froome deserves knighthood after Tour-Vuelta double, and could be greatest of all time
Chris Froome deserves a knighthood after all-but securing a Tour de France-La Vuelta and he could even go on to become the greatest cyclist of all time, says Sean Kelly.
Froome carries a 2’15’’ general classification lead into Sunday’s final stage, a processional to Madrid where the Team Sky rider will be crowned winner of La Vuelta for the first time.
It means Froome will become the first rider since 1978, and only the third ever after Jacques Antequil and Bernard Hinault, to win the French and Spanish Grand Tours in the same year.
It is an achievement for the ages, according to Eurosport expert Kelly, who won the Vuelta himself in 1988.
“Froome winning the Vuelta a Espana, especially after winning the Tour de France, is a major, major achievement in modern cycling and I think he deserves not only to win Sports Personality of the Year, but he deserves a knighthood,” Kelly told Eurosport.
" It’s difficult to compare careers and achievements over time, but I think this will be considered one of the greatest achievements, especially in modern cycling. To achieve that Tour/Vuelta double, it will go down in the history books. He’s tried a few times, and now he’s eventually pulled off. Unless it’s Chris Froome, it’s difficult to see anyone else capable of achieving that. "
Kelly says that Froome’s feats place him towards the very top of cycling’s all-time lists, and he could even finish his career as the greatest rider the sport has ever seen.
“I think Froome, at the moment, is getting very close to being at the top of the rankings all-time, alongside the likes of Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, the guys who won five Tour de France titles as well as Giros and Vueltas,” he said.
" Of course his career is not finished yet and you look at the way he is performing now, it looks like he can definitely add more than one Tour de France title and maybe even another Vuelta and it wouldn’t surprise me if before his career his up, he’ll be the best of all-time."
However, achieving a Grand Tour grand slam is likely to be beyond even the Team Sky rider, says Kelly, as the task of adding the Giro d’Italia to the Tour and Vuelta in the same season could well be impossible.
" I think to win all three in the same year is an impossible feat, you see riders who try the Giro/Tour double, it’s next to impossible, so to go on and try to add the Vuelta in there is too tough of an ask."
Eurosport's Stage 21 coverage on Sunday:
- 1530-1945 LIVE stage 21 on Eurosport 1 and via the Eurosport Player
- 2000-2100 Stage 21 highlights on Eurosport 2 and via the Eurosport Player