Following Sunday's neutralized finish in Paris, it's official: Chris Froome will be the winner of the 2015 Tour de France. Froome has now won the Grande Boucle twice in three years, missing a potential three-peat when he was forced to abandon in 2014. He is well on his way to being considered a legend of his sport, especially after beating a field that was as strong as any of recent memory.
The 2015 Tour featured four five-star favorites: Froome, 2014 winner Vincenzo Nibali, Giro d'Italia winner Alberto Contador and Colombian phenom Nairo Quintana. He weathered nearly every attack his rivals launched over three weeks, finishing with a winning margin of 1:12 over Quintana.
Froome held the yellow jersey on Stage 4, then regained it from Stage 7 onward after briefly losing it to Tony Martin. His signature attack was a furious climb up La Pierre-St. Martin on Stage 10, during which he opened his lead from 12 seconds to 2:52 over Tejay Van Garderen.
From that point onward, Froome was a marked man, but any attacks against him fell short. Froome himself was magnificent, of course, but so was Team Sky. During the Stage 12 climb up to Plateau de Beille, Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas successfully closed gap after gap with Froome in tow, allowing Froome to then attack on his own in a show of force to his rivals, ultimately forcing a stalemate.
The next decisive days came at the very end of the Tour in the Alps. On Stage 19, Froome was perhaps truly vulnerable for the first time, losing his lieutenants to the early climbs and being forced to fend off every offensive himself. Nibali attacked him to win the stage when Froome had a mechanical issue, and Quintana was able to wrest 30 seconds away on the general classification, but Froome was still in strong position heading into the Stage 20 climb up Alpe d'Huez, 2:38 ahead of second-place Quintana.
The final day of climbing was another hard one. Quintana attacked relentlessly on the Alps, but a better-protected Froome was able to remain defensive, matching Quintana until six kilometers remained in the stage when the Colombian was able to pull free and take another 1:22 out of Froome's lead. Quintana's climb was magnificent, but it was no match for the well-laid plans of Sky and Froome.
With the increased profile should come more pressure on Froome. As a potential dynastic Tour winner in the post-Lance Armstrong era, he'll face doping accusations, substantiated or not. Little can be done about the roadside crowd, which may continue to spit, throw urine and yell dopé at every winner until such a time when testing can guarantee that every rider is clean.
As long as Froome can grin and bear the vitriol, however, he should continue to dazzle at the Tour for as long as we can foresee.
General classification (yellow jersey) standings
|Robert Gesink||Lotto NL-Jumbo||84:57:01||10:47|
|Mathias Frank||IAM Cycling||85:01:28||15:14|
|Bauke Mollema||Trek Factory Racing||85:01:53||15:39|
|Romain Bardet||AG2R La Mondiale||85:02:14||16:00|
Points (green jersey) standings
|Mark Cavendish||Etixx-Quick Step||206|
King of the Mountains (polka dot jersey) standings
|Romain Bardet||AG2R La Mondiale||90|