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‘It’s just an incredible feeling’ – Chris Froome makes history with Vuelta a Espana victory
Chris Froome admitted he was still coming to terms with making history after landing the coveted Tour de France-La Vuelta double.
Froome ended a six-year wait for La Vuelta glory – finishing second on three occasions in the meantime – on Sunday as he sprinted to an 11th-placed finish in the 21st and final stage in Madrid.
The Team Sky rider, who had led the race for 19 days, stayed out of trouble to become the first Briton to win the event and just the third man to claim both titles in the same season.
He told www.teamsky.com: “It’s just an incredible feeling. I’m still coming to terms with everything. It’s just been such a whirlwind and it’s been such an incredible journey.
“Just the fact that nobody has ever won the Tour and then won the Vuelta afterwards, it’s incredible to have been able to do it.
“Obviously I didn’t do it alone, it was thanks to an amazing team behind me and thanks to so much support from everyone: from the fans, from my family and friends. It’s just been an amazing few months and I want to thank everyone who has contributed to that.
“I’ve been fighting for this victory now for six years and three years I’ve been standing on the second step. It’s just amazing to stand on the top step this time.”
Only Jacques Anquetil in 1963 Bernard Hinault 15 years later have matched the Briton’s achievement, although he is the first to do so since La Vuelta was moved from before the Tour to after it in 1995.
Froome’s winning time was 82 hours, 30 minutes and two seconds – two minutes and 15 seconds ahead of Nibali with Zakarin a further 36 seconds back.
In the process, he edged out stage winner Matteo Trentin to take the points classification by just two, claiming the green jersey in addition to the red and white.
Froome, who was presented with a special trophy to mark his double success, said: “I figured this would probably be the only time in my life to try and win the green jersey of a Grand Tour, so I gave it everything I had and managed to get a few points at the finish there.
“Obviously I couldn’t be happier with the result. I’m just a bike racer and of course if there’s a competition to be won, I’m going to go for it.”
Froome, second-placed Italian Nibali and Russia’s Zakarin in third had earlier each been handed a celebratory glass of champagne by a motorcycle camera crew during the 117.6km 21st and final stage, but the party started in earnest once he had crossed the line.
The delighted Tour de France winner tweeted a photograph of himself eating pizza minutes after the finish with the caption: “Job done!”.
Team-mate David Lopez later revealed how hungry Froome had been to add the title to his list of honours.
He told Eurosport: “Chris Froome is smiling more here than when he won the Tour de France.
“He’s won four of them, so for him the Vuelta was a bigger battle and more complicated for him, it was one he really wanted to win.”
It proved an emotional day for retiring Spaniard Alberto Contador, who signed off with rapturously received lap of honour.
He told www.lavuelta.com: “After 15 very, very hard years of fighting, today is a special day. It’s a dream. I don’t know a goodbye better than this.”