Double-seeking Froome to race in Vuelta

Chris Froome

Froome won his third successive Tour de France on Sunday

Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome has confirmed he will ride in the “vicious” Vuelta a Espana this year in pursuit of a historic double.

Briton Froome, 32, won his latest Tour title on Sunday in Paris.

No rider has won the Tour and Vuelta in the same year since the race moved from April, to August and September in 1995.

“I’ve got the opportunity and I’m certainly going to go for it,” Team Sky’s Froome, who has finished second on three occasions in the Vuelta, said.

“The Vuelta is a race I love – it’s vicious but it’s three weeks that I enjoy. I’ve come second three times now and I’d love to win.

“To win both the Tour and the Vuelta in one year would be absolutely incredible.”

  • Froome can go on to win more titles – Brailsford
  • Is Froome Britain’s least loved great sportsman?

The 2017 Vuelta – the Spanish race that is the third of the three Grand Tours along with the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France – begins on 19 August in the French city of Nimes and finishes three weeks later on 10 September in Madrid.

Froome could face competition in the general classification from many of the same riders who he beat to the yellow jersey in the Tour.

Romain Bardet, Fabio Aru, and Alberto Contador are all expected to be on the start line, as well as Vincenzo Nibali, who missed the Tour de France.

Froome has come close to winning the Vuelta on three occasions in the past – he finished just 13 seconds behind Juan Jose Cobo in 2011 while riding for team-mate Bradley Wiggins, before coming second to Contador in 2014 and Nairo Quintana in 2016.

Victory in this season’s race would make Froome the first Briton to win Spain’s national tour and only the third rider in history to manage the Tour-Vuelta double – but Jacques Anquetil’s victory in 1963 and Bernard Hinault’s in 1978 both came when the race was held in April.

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Women’s cycling: New-rider numbers up by 723,000 since 2013

Women-only Breeze Bike rides have proven popular

Women-only Breeze Bike rides have proven popular

Nearly three quarters of a million more UK women have taken up cycling since 2013, according to British Cycling.

Three times as many men rode bikes regularly as women in 2013, leading to the #WeRide initiative to get one million more women cycling by 2020.

“Four years on, I am pleased to say that the sport is in a different place,” said new British Cycling chief executive Julie Harrington.

She now wants stakeholders to work together to keep women cycling.

Dame Sarah Storey – Britain’s most successful Paralympian – said improvements in road safety could help.

“It’s one of the main barriers preventing women from cycling,” she said.

“It is crucial that politicians and decision makers take on board safety concerns, and ensure that our roads are appealing, safe shared spaces that can be used conveniently by all road users, regardless of their chosen method of transport.”

The target of one million more women riding by 2020 was seen as highly ambitious four years ago.

“We were almost laughed out of the room,” said Harrington.

“This itself was proof of the entrenched view of cycling as a sport for men.

“Our perseverance across all areas – from encouraging clubs to offer women-only sessions to training 70% more female coaches – is paying off.”

Wider gains for women

As well as the top-line figure of 723,000 more women taking up cycling, the report cites a wide range of advances for women in cycling since 2013:

  • More than 150,000 female attendances at Breeze Bike rides, British Cycling’s female-only rides programme
  • Almost 500 clubs across the country now offer women-only sessions
  • Number of trained female coaches is up 70%
  • Female race licence holders is up 72%
  • British Cycling’s female membership has doubled
  • Three women now sit on British Cycling’s Board of Directors

Interest has been helped by increased visibility and success at elite levels – British women have won more than 20 world titles since 2013 and claimed 10 Olympic and Paralympic cycling titles at Rio 2016.

But sustained gains are dependent on retention of those new riders.

“We need to better understand just why women drop off,” added Harrington.

“This isn’t something we can tackle alone – we’ll need the support of sports bodies, cycling and transport organisations, national and local government, and the media. But we are determined to crack it.”

If you want to take part in British Cycling’s women-only Breeze Bike ride programme, you can find sessions near you with the Get Inspired Activity Finder.

Or if you want to find out more about getting into cycling, check out our inclusive Get Inspired guide.

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Fit For Sport Summer Term Activity Camp

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Tour de France 2017: Chris Froome can go on to win more titles

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Froome reflects on ‘incredible’ fourth Tour win

Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome will be a “force” in the race for years to come, says Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford.

Briton Froome, 32, sealed his fourth title and third in succession on Sunday’s final stage in Paris.

The record for most Tour titles won is five, held by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

“Chris can go on – there’s no reason to think that he can’t,” said Brailsford.

“Physically he’s got what it takes and I don’t think that’s going to diminish in the next year or so.”

Brailsford added that Froome’s chances of winning more Tour titles were a question of “hunger and mentality” and that the Team Sky rider was “as hungry as ever”.

“He’s getting better tactically and technically, so as long as that hunger continues and he keeps his health, then he’ll be a force in this race for a good couple of seasons to come,” Brailsford told ITV4.

‘It’s not a popularity contest’

In the three previous years in which he won the Tour – 2013, 2015 and 2016 – Froome has never finished higher than sixth in voting for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, failing to make 16-strong shortlist last year.

Froome was jeered by some fans during this year’s Tour and claimed he had urine thrown at him in the 2015 race.

“I don’t think it’s a popularity contest,” said Brailsford.

“You’ve got to look at the sporting achievement and Chris is right up there with the greats now, there is no denying it.

“He’ll be thinking about the respect amongst his peers in terms of what he’s achieved and how he’s achieved it and he’s got the utmost respect from them.

“He deserves all the accolades he gets and I’m proud of Chris Froome – he’s a great ambassador for the sport and a great ambassador for Team Sky and I’m sure a lot of people think the same.”

Team Sky have now won five of the past six Tours following Sir Bradley Wiggins’ victory in 2012.

“This is the greatest victory I’ve been involved in and definitely the most satisfying,” Brailsford told BBC Radio 5 live.

‘Our friendliest Tour’

Both Wiggins and Froome have been subject to scrutiny and asked questions about doping at times during their Tour wins.

Since Froome’s third Tour win in 2016, there has also been more widespread criticism of Team Sky and their principal Brailsford.

The former performance director of British Cycling has been questioned over the contents of a medical package sent to Wiggins at the Criterium du Dauphine in 2011 and the team criticised for the use of therapeutic use exemptions.

Brailsford also apologised for a “foul-mouthed exchange” with a reporter during this year’s Tour.

However, Brailsford claimed that this year’s race had been his team’s “friendliest” Tour de France.

“What has been interesting is there have been no difficult questions coming Chris Froome’s way this year, there have been no challenges like we’ve had in other years,” he added.

“In that sense I think that’s a really good sign where we’re at as a sport and where he’s at.”

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Tour de France 2017: Chris Froome wins yellow jersey for the fourth time

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Froome reflects on ‘incredible’ fourth Tour win

Britain’s Chris Froome won the Tour de France for the fourth time as Dylan Groenewegen sprinted to victory in Paris on the 21st and final stage.

Groenewegen defeated German Andre Greipel in a frenetic final sprint on the Champs Elysees but the day belonged to 32-year-old Froome.

The Team Sky rider is now second in the all-time list after completing his third successive victory.

Rigoberto Uran was second, 54 seconds behind, with Romain Bardet third.

“Each time I have won has been so unique, such a different battle to get to this moment,” said Froome afterwards.

“They are all so special but this will be remembered as the closest and most hard fought.”

It was a largely processional stage before they reached Paris – with Yoann Offredo stopping to greet family and friends as the race passed close to his home and Cyril Gautier writing a marriage proposal on a piece on paper that was then broadcast on television.

But the stage ended in the expected bunch finish – with several teams trying to set up their sprinters before Lotto NL-Jumbo’s Groenewegen held off his rivals to cross the line first.

Lotto Soudal’s Greipel banged his head against his handlebars in frustration as he ended a Tour without a stage win for the first time.

  • Is Froome Britain’s least loved great sportsman?
  • ‘Froome can be force for years to come’

How the race was won

An unusual thing happened to Froome during the 2017 Tour – he had the yellow jersey taken off him.

Froome cracked on the steep incline up to the summit finish at Peyragudes at the end of stage 12, losing 22 seconds to Italian Fabio Aru.

It gave Aru a six-second advantage and the rest of Froome’s rivals hope that they could seriously threaten the 32-year-old for the first time in several years.


Froome’s lowest moment of the entire race was on the slopes up to the summit finish at Peyragudes

“I suffered in the Pyrenees and lost time on Peyragudes – but normally a bad day in the mountains you can lose three minutes,” added Froome.

If his rivals thought Froome – who came into the race a little light on miles – was vulnerable he responded superbly, sprinting up to the finish in Rodez at the end of stage 14 to reclaim yellow from the tiring Aru.

Froome did not surrender the jersey again. The only time he was seriously threatened was when he had to stop to change a wheel shortly after he had been attacked by his rivals on stage 15 – but he managed to close the gap they had opened.

And even though there were only 29 seconds separating the top three of Froome, Bardet and Uran going into the time trial in Marseille on Saturday’s penultimate stage, Froome had long ago regained control of the race.

“Every Tour is hard. It’s difficult to say which was the hardest – every year you suffer. Definitely this was closest,” he added after finishing third in the time trial to extend his lead.

Froome did not win a stage this year – becoming only the seventh rider to win a Tour without one – but does move second in the list of most Tour titles.

Only the legendary Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain – all with five wins – stand above Froome.

And there are now only three men to have worn yellow on more days – Froome has worn it 59 times and moved above Anquetil on the all-time list during this year’s Tour.

What about the other Britons?

It would have to be classed as a successful year for British riders at the Tour – although there are a few notable exceptions.

For the second successive year, a British rider not only topped the general classification but also claimed the white jersey given to the the best rider under the age of 26.

Last year it was Adam Yates who ended in white, but with the 24-year-old not in the 2017 race after riding the Giro d’Italia, where he finished ninth, his twin brother and fellow Orica-Scott rider Simon Yates claimed the jersey instead.


It was a sad and painful end for Mark Cavendish, who looked to be finding some form before his heavy crash

Dimension Data’s Steve Cummings won stages in 2015 and 2016 and many of his fans avidly watched to see whether he would be able to get himself in the kind of breakaway that would give him the chance to complete the hat-trick, but it was not to be for the 36-year-old, who admitted he had been “disappointed” by his Tour.

At least Cummings made it to Paris – unlike his team-mate Mark Cavendish, who was well placed in a sprint before crashing into the barriers at the end of stage four.

Cavendish broke his right shoulder in the crash – in an incident that not only ended his Tour but also saw Peter Sagan controversially disqualified from the race.

Injury also ended the race of Sky’s Geraint Thomas, the Welshman crashing on a fast decent and breaking his collarbone during the brutal ninth stage – one that also claimed Australian Richie Porte, another of the pre-race favourites.

But at least Thomas had won the opening stage’s time trial in the German city of Dusseldorf, in the process taking yellow for the first time. Thomas held the jersey until the end of stage four.

Luke Rowe – Team Sky’s third British rider – finished as the lanterne rouge, the rider in last place on general classification.

Fortuneo-Oscaro sprinter Dan McLay had been in last place but he abandoned on stage 17, while Scott Thwaites and Ben Swift both reached Paris, with the former 107th on the GC and the latter 83rd.

Who won the other jerseys?

The two remaining jerseys were both won by Team Sunweb, with the German team also picking up four stages, two each for Michael Matthews and Warren Barguil.

Green: Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb)

After Marcel Kittel claimed his fifth win of the Tour on stage 11, the German sprinter had a seemingly insurmountable lead in the green jersey points classification of 133 points over Matthews.

However, the Australian never gave up, going on the attack to pick up intermediate sprint points and after wins on stages 14 and 16, the Sunweb rider was just 29 points behind his Quick-Step rival.

Kittel was then forced to abandon after crashing early on stage 17, with Matthews pulling on the green jersey and soon building an unassailable lead of his own.

Sagan, who won the previous five points classifications, was disqualified for his part in a crash involving Cavendish, another former green jersey winner, on stage four.

Polka dot: Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb)


Frenchman Warren Barguil delighted the crowds with his win at the summit finish on Izoard on stage 18

Barguil was distraught after being denied in a photo finish by Uran on stage nine, having thought he had won. The 25-year-old Frenchman responded in fine style, though, by utterly dominating the King of the Mountains classification.

He proved a deserving winner – building his total through two stage wins and long-range attacks to take points over the summits of some of the Tour’s toughest climbs.

His victory on stage 13 meant he became the first French rider since 2005 to win on Bastille Day, while he became the first of any nationality to win a Tour stage at the summit of the Col d’Izoard on stage 18.

White: Simon Yates (Orica-Scott)

Yates took the white jersey off Pierre Latour at the end of stage four and kept it all the way to Paris.

His key rival for white was South African Louis Meintjes. The two finished one place apart in the general classification, with Yates seventh and Meintjes eighth.

Meintjes’ last chance to seriously challenge his rival for white was Saturday’s time trial through the streets of Marseille – but after 22.5km the two finished on exactly the same time.

Analysis – ‘The most exciting Tour for a while’

Former British cyclist and BBC summariser Rob Hayles

When you look at the fight for the yellow jersey, the competition has rarely been closer.

Until Kittel abandoned, the green jersey competition was shaping up to be very tight and Barguil has animated so many of the mountain stages in his fight for the polka dot jersey. So this Tour has been the most exciting for a while.

With the tight margins involved, this has definitely been Chris Froome’s toughest victory.

He has never really been in a position at any point where he could relax and consider yellow in Paris a foregone conclusion.

Stage 15 – where Froome had to have a bike change while Bardet’s team were trying to turn the screw – showed just how strong physically and mentally he has been at this year’s Tour.

Everybody in the team played their part. Mikel Landa, Michal Kwiatkowski and Luke Rowe in particular were true professionals and that is what the Tour is about – not just the individual leader, but his team-mates all working for one goal.

Stage 20 result:

1. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo) 2hrs 25mins 39secs

2. Andre Greipel (Ger/Lotto-Soudal) Same Time

3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor/Dimension Data)

4. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra/Cofidis)

5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/Katusha-Alpecin)

6. Borut Bozic (Slo/Bahrain-Merida)

7. Davide Cimolai (Ita/FDJ)

8. Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fra/Fortuneo-Oscaro)

9. Ruediger Selig (Ger/BORA-hansgrohe)

10. Daniele Bennati (Ita/Movistar Team)

General classification after stage 21:

1. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) 86hrs 20mins 55secs

2. Rigoberto Uran (Col/Cannondale-Drapac) +54secs

3. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R La Mondiale) +2mins 20secs

4. Mikel Landa (Spa/Team Sky) +2mins 21secs

5. Fabio Aru (Ita/Astana) +3mins 05secs

6. Dan Martin (Ire/Quick-Step Floors) +4mins 42secs

7. Simon Yates (GB/Orica-Scott) +6mins 14secs

8. Louis Meintjes (SA/Team UAE Emirates) +8mins 20secs

9. Alberto Contador (Spa/Trek-Segafredo) +8mins 49secs

10. Warren Barguil (Fra/Team Sunweb) +9mins 25secs

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