Froome to Sagan: Winners and losers of the Tour de France

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Winners: Nairo Quintana, Chris Froome (pictured), Alejandro Valverde.

With Chris Froome sealing a second Tour de France title, here's a look at the five winners and losers from the Tour.

FIVE WINNERS: 

Chris Froome

A second Tour victory, the first Briton to win two Tours and the first rider since Eddy Merckx in 1970 to claim the yellow race winner’s and polka dot king of the mountains jerseys in the same Tour, Froome was obviously the big winner this year.

After crashing out of last year’s Tour just five stages in, he reasserted his supremacy in the world’s most prestigious bike race.

Even being spat at, insulted, accused of cheating and doused with urine couldn’t dampen his joy.

Nairo Quintana

The Colombian climber may have come up just short in his victory quest but he was a lot closer to Froome than two years ago and proved that he could threaten and worry the Briton in the mountains.

He’s only 25 and as he says himself, he has many more years to come to try to win the Tour.

Alejandro Valverde

The 35-year-old Spaniard broke into tears after Saturday’s 20th stage and that after finishing third.

It may seem curious for a rider with so many great victories to his name but it was Valverde’s first time on the Tour podium after his best ever finish.

Quintana’s evergreen team-mate is still as hungry as ever.

Andre Greipel

The burly German has spent the last few years in the shadow of sprint greats Mark Cavendish and compatriot Marcel Kittel.

At 33 years of age, Greipel might have thought his best sprint years were behind him but with Kittel absent and Cavendish’s fabled acceleration a distant memory, Greipel won four stages – his best result at the Tour.

MTN Qhubeka

If becoming the first African team to ride the Tour de France wasn’t enough, Qhubeka made the most of their debut.

Briton Steve Cummings won the 14th stage and Eritrean Daniel Teklehaimanot wore the king of the mountains polka dot jersey for four days.

Their Tour was a resounding success.

FIVE LOSERS:

Vincenzo Nibali

The reigning champion was one of the ‘fantastic four’ coming into the race but he ended up fourth, 8min 36sec behind the winner, Chris Froome.

He had a terrible first week, including losing 1min 28sec in crosswinds on the second stage.

He then started the second week by cracking in spectacular fashion on the opening mountain stage and his victory hopes were already gone.

He did salvage some pride, however, with a stage victory.

Alberto Contador

The two-time former winner from Spain had set himself the goal of winning the Giro d’Italia-Tour de France double this year.

He came into the Tour as holder of both the Vuelta a Espana and Giro titles but Contador simply ran out of energy in France, finishing fifth at 9min 48sec.

Peter Sagan

The popular Slovak may have won the green points jersey for the fourth year in a row but it was his near-misses in stages that were most striking.

He has now gone 56 Tour stages since claiming a victory.

Second five times, third twice, fourth twice and fifth once this year alone, Sagan tries to hide his frustration but his Tinkoff-Saxo team would certainly swap that consistency for a stage win.

Mark Cavendish

From 2008 to 2012 he was undoubtedly the best sprinter in the world but it is now three Tours in a row in which he has had to sit back and watch a German dominate.

Cavendish did win a stage, but Andre Greipel won four, just as Marcel Kittel had done in both 2013 and 2014. The Manx Missile is no longer supersonic.

The French

Peraud, Pinot and Bardet.

Finishing second and third last year and with a new generation of talented youngsters, hopes were high for the hosts this year.

But crashes and illness wrecked their dreams as Jean- Christophe Peraud, Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet all disappointed in terms of the overall standings.

The last two did both win a stage but only after their overall hopes had disintegrated. Even sprinter Nacer Bouhanni could not bring cheer as he crashed out in the first week.

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Taste for success: Chris Froome could yet ride in Spain.

Tour de France winner Chris Froome could look to double up on Grand Tours this year and race the Vuelta a Espana which starts in August.

Froome became the first British rider to win two Tour titles on Sunday when he crossed the finishing line in Paris to follow up on his 2013 win.

Froome rode last year’s Vuelta after crashing out of the 2014 Tour, and there is a thought that – although he finished second to Alberto Contador in the race – it helped get him in the right condition to prepare for the Tour over the winter.

“It’s a bit early to say 100 per cent but I think potentially it could be on the cards,” Froome said of a return to Spain.

“I know it would be a massive challenge to go back to another Grand Tour and to go there with the aim of winning the general classification, but that’s in the back of my mind and maybe could be on the cards.”

However, Froome did not sound like a man in a rush to commit to another gruelling three-week race as he enjoys his first day of relaxation after months of Tour preparation.

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“It’s not on the Tour itself, it’s the whole build-up, months and months of doing every little thing right, every little detail,” he said. “It’s going to be great to switch off for a few days.”

Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford also told his star rider to enjoy himself before making a decision, particularly as Froome and his wife Michelle have a baby on the way.

“The reality is you never know how the guys are going to come out of three weeks of racing,” he said. “You need to a have a couple of days to calibrate and see where you are.”

Froome’s Tour de France was all the more stressful for the constant sniping and abuse he received from some who refuse to believe he is riding clean, with Froome and his Sky team-mates facing attacks on and off the bike as they were spat at and, in Froome’s case, doused in urine by some along the roadside.

That was something he addressed in his victory speech on the Champs-Elysees when he spoke of honouring the yellow jersey and its history – a point he reiterated.

“I’m in a privileged position to be able to speak out about the current level of the sport and where we’re at in that regard, just to reassure people that this isn’t going to be a rerun of the likes of some of the guys we’ve seen before us,” he said.

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Victorious: Team Sky.

Sir Dave Brailsford says those looking for evidence of doping at Team Sky might as well be by the banks of Loch Ness looking for a monster following Chris Froome’s success on Sunday.

The 30-year-old’s performance was scrutinised and subject to innuendo and interrogations after his dominant win on stage 10 to La Pierre-Saint-Martin.

It is a legacy of the drug-assisted era in cycling which has created a climate of suspicion.

Brailsford approved the release of Froome’s performance data from the opening Pyrenees stage, but that did not satisfy the accusers, for whom the Team Sky principal has a message.

“Tell them the Loch Ness Monster doesn’t actually exist,” Brailsford said. “It has been disrespectful, to come under the criticism and for people to say the things they have said about him with no foundation.

“They should go and spend their time sitting at the side of Loch Ness and waiting for a monster. It’s the same thing. We have still got people camping outside with binoculars saying, ‘I’m sure we are going to see the monster tomorrow’, but it never appears.

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“You can’t prove him negative, but there is a weight of evidence to show that we are doing it the right way, we are a clean team and Chris is just a fantastic champion.”

Froome is uncertain what to say to his detractors.

“There’s not much I really could say to them. I think their minds are already made up,” Froome added.

“I’m not superhuman like they make out. We’ve tried to be as transparent as possible without releasing too much of our competitive advantage. I think I’ve tried to be as consistent as possible across this race.

“I’d say if they want to scrutinise my performances that closely, then it’s only fair they scrutinise everyone’s performances on the same level.” 

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