Post Race Analysis

Can Chris Froome now be considered one of cycling’s greatest ever?

After doing the Tour-Vuelta double, where does Froome stand compared to some of the peloton's greatest ever riders?

Chris Froome wrote the latest chapter in his illustrious career when he rode into Madrid in the Vuelta a Espana’s red jersey on Sunday.

The Team Sky man is only the third rider ever to win both the Tour de France and the Vuelta in the same year (along with Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil) – and the first since the Spanish Grand Tour moved to its current position in the calendar, after the Tour.

Froome is now a five-time Grand Tour winner – the most successful rider in the current peloton following Alberto Contador’s retirement and could even add to his remarkable summer with time trial success at the UCI Road World Championships in Bergen having been named in the Great Britain squad.

So where does Froome now stand compared to the greatest riders of all time?

Chris Froome became the first man ever to win the Tour de France and then go on to win the Vuelta a Espana, but where does he stand compared to some of cycling’s greatest ever? (Pic: Sirotti)

Froome’s detractors point to the fact he has achieved his five Grand Tour wins at the head of the UCI WorldTour’s biggest and richest team in Team Sky.

And yet, Froome is only at the head of Team Sky because he has earnt that role – other Grand Tour contenders such as Rigoberto Uran, Richie Porte and now Mikel Landa have played second fiddle (or less in some instances) to the Kenyan-born Brit, and had to move to get their own opportunities.

He also earned his spot at the head of Team Sky’s Grand Tour ambitions by forcing his way to the forefront of Dave Brailsford’s thinking in 2012, when he arguably could have won the Tour de France as Bradley Wiggins’ super-domestique.

Sure, a big undoubtedly budget helps – Landa, Mikel Nieve, Wout Poels and Gianni Moscon all played integral roles in setting up Froome’s Grand Tour successes – but Froome has proved himself worthy of such support.

The fact he also topped the points classification at the Vuelta is testament to that – his consistency, on all manner of different terrain, ensured he was never far from the sharp end of racing.

He also proved his versatility at the Tour de France in 2016, with his incredible descent of the Col de Peyrasourde and late breakaway with Peter Sagan among the highlights, as opposed to just winning on climbs and in time trials.

It’s in time trials that Froome is simply head and shoulders above his rivals, and in a totally different manner to Sir Bradley Wiggins and other time triallists like Miguel Indurain before him.

Where Wiggins and Indurain survived in the mountains and dominated against the clock, Froome also took time on the mountain top finishes at the Vuelta – the Cumbre del Sol and Alto de l’Angliru, for example.

Froome has benefitted from the support of the likes of Wout Poels, pictured, but the Team Sky man’s all-round ability means he commands his place at the head of such a strong team (Pic: Sirotti)

Froome’s sheer domination of races – he has now worn the yellow jersey on 59 occasions, fourth on the all-time list, and took his tally to 20 red jerseys at the Vuelta, only the seventh non-Spaniard to hit that milestone – also proves his all-round strength.

He admitted after his Vuelta triumph that one day he will have to target the Giro d’Italia as well, and look to join Anquetil, Hinault, Eddy Merckx, Alberto Contador, Felice Gimondi and Vincenzo Nibali as riders to have won all three Grand Tours.

Arguably, the Giro could be his toughest challenge to date – Lotto-Soudal’s Adam Hansen, who has now finished all three Grand Tours in each of the last six seasons, has stated before he finds the Corsa Rosa the toughest of the lot.

Before that, however, Froome will look to win the Tour de France for a fifth time, and join Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault and Indurain as quintuple winners of the yellow jersey.

Froome’s name repeatedly crops up close to the likes of Indurain, Merckx and Hinault in the cycling record books now (Pic: Sirotti)

Froome’s name now already crops alongside that iconic quartet whenever you look at the record books.

Merckx and Hinault are streets ahead, of course, with 11 and ten Grand Tour wins respectively – along with a host of victories from one-day Classics to the World Championships – but that Froome is even now uttered in the same breath as those cycling legends as a Grand Tour rider is testament to where he stands in cycling’s history.

He may never become a universally popular figure – he was booed into the Stade Velodrome when he all-but-sealed Tour de France success in Marseille in July – but what cannot be denied is his dominant, all-round ability on the bike.

Froome has some way to go to match the very best in the sport’s history, like Merckx and Hinault, but his historic Tour-Vuelta double is just the latest addition to a CV now bursting with triumphs.

Froome may now be 32, but there’s more to come, too.

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