The Vuelta featured some of the world’s toughest climbs with brutal gradients, yet after twenty one stages Chris Froome has made it look like a walk in the park. Vincenzo Nibali, in second place, was the only rider inside two minutes going into the ceremonial stage in Madrid where Froome further expressed his dominance. It was a performance from a man in a whole different league to every other rider. He has become the first ever rider to win the Vuelta straight after winning the Tour de France. Going into Spain’s national tour, Froome was the all-time runner-up with three second place finishes but this time, nothing could stop him winning.
Neither Vincenzo Nibali, the four-time grand tour winner, nor Alberto Contador, the three-time Vuelta winner and seven-time overall grand tour winner could get anywhere near the Team Sky rider who has now become one of the greatest riders in the history of cycling. Froome won the red jersey on stage 3 and has held it ever since. During that time he has increased his overall lead seven times and only lost time to his rivals twice – one of which was when he fell off his bike after misjudging a bend on stage 5. Even when he lost 42 seconds after labouring on the summit of the Alto de Los Machucos on stage 17, you still felt Chris Froome was not going to give up the red leader’s jersey. For any other rider, a 42 second loss would have been a massive blow but for Froome it was a mere blip. The next day, Froome had gained 21 seconds.
Despite it being the end of the cycling season, Chris Froome is at the best he has ever been. Nobody was able to match the undisputed stamina of the Team Sky rider. Since July, Froome has raced almost every day – barring the month’s break between the end of the Tour and start of the Vuelta. Whilst he has tailored his schedule to cope with the incessant racing, it still required extraordinary endurance, something which Chris Froome had in abundance. Critics of Froome’s success will point to Team Sky’s massive budget citing unfair advantage, but this is the situation in every sport. BMC, an American team, also has a similar budget to Sky, but have had nowhere near the successes of Sky and Froome.
The magnitude of this achievement was reflected in the fact that it has taken Chris Froome so long to complete the double, “I’ve been fighting for this victory for six years. It’s amazing to stand on the top step this time,” he told the BBC. Reflecting on his victory he also told the BBC: “There is a reason that nobody has won the Tour and come on to win the Vuelta.”
His dominance was confirmed in the fact that he took home three jerseys – the red leader’s jersey; the green points jersey and the white combined jersey. However Froome, it seems, does not get the acclaim that he deserves. When you take into account the hype that surrounds Andy Murray – who has won three Sports Personality of the Year awards – and you compare his achievements to Chris Froome, then there is only one winner. Bradley Wiggins, after winning just one Tour de France, won the SPOTY award. Froome has won four tours and now has become the first ever person to win the Vuelta straight after winning the Tour de France.
Chris Froome has become one of the greatest cyclists of all time and this victory will be looked back at for many generations to come.