SAN DIEGO, July 26, 2015 – Chris Froome of Team Sky stepped onto the podium in Paris Sunday for the second time as the winner of the Tour de France. He managed to hold off Nairo Quintana of Movistar by a minute plus. Quintana’s teammate Alejandro Valverde will join him on the podium in third place.
Rain threatened the peloton, and the stage began with everyone in windbreakers. It was the first time since 1977 there had been rain on this final day. But the skies and the streets dried up, and the sun came out as if to salute the yellow jersey on the final lap through the streets of Paris.
Although it is a largely ceremonial ride, the winner still has to finish. Froome had to navigate around a nasty pileup of riders on the last lap in Paris and had a mechanical incident near the end when a bit of trash got caught in his wheel.
Froome came across the finish line behind the peloton, arm in arm with his Sky Racing teammates. Froome now has the most yellow jerseys of any active rider, passing Fabian Cancellara by one. The pair are likely to duel for more yellow jerseys next year.
It was a disappointing year for 2014 Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali, who managed to pull himself into fourth place after a difficult competition, and Alberto Contador of Tinkoff Saxo in fifth, who hoped to double up winning the Tour after also having also won the Giro d’Italia. The top five have all won Grand Tours, but there could be only one winner Sunday in Paris.
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Perhaps the most disappointed competitor of all is American Tejay Van Garderen. He was sitting in a strong third place halfway through the Alpine stages when a wicked chest cold coupled with a crushing headache forced him to abandon the race on stage 17. Van Garderen will be back next year, with something to prove, and that’s the good news from this situation.
The sprinters had their fun in Paris, and the race ended with German Andre Greipel of Lotto Soudal edging out French rider Bryan Coquard of Europcar for the sprint victory. It made for four stage wins for Greipel and six stage wins for German riders overall, an excellent result.
The final jersey winners were Froome wearing polka dots as King of the Mountains, Peter Sagan of Cannondale the green jersey winner as sprint champion and Quintana wearing the white jersey as the best young rider. Romain Bardet of French team AG2R Le Mondiale was named the most aggressive rider of the Tour. Movistar won the team competition.
One hundred and sixty riders finished the 2015 Tour out of 198 who started, four less than in 2014. Sebastien Chavanel of French team FDJ finished last, four hours and 56 minutes behind Chris Froome, and receives the Red Lantern as a result. It isn’t intended as a joke. It’s intended to honor the rider who makes it all the way through this grueling race despite having nothing in it other than the satisfaction of the accomplishment itself.
Forget the naysayers who worry about cheating and politics. The Tour de France remains one of the world’s greatest athletic competitions. The combination of athletic excellence, gorgeous scenery and the enthusiasm of the fans can’t be beat. Best of all, many of the top competitors like Quintana, Bardet, Sagan and Van Garderen are all young riders in their early 20s and will battle each other for many Tours to come. Vive Le Tour!
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is president/owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Follow the Tour de France daily in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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