Explosive descending, surprise attacks, relentless climbing and time trial success lead to yellow jersey
Chris Froome stormed to a third Tour de France title in four years with a superb showcase of his all-round ability.
Froome descended, sprinted, climbed and time trialed to victory in France to further cement his place as the best Grand Tour rider of this generation.
Froome’s final overall advantage was more than four minutes to second-placed Romain Bardet, as his rivals simply had no answer to his attacking riding and Team Sky’s control on the front of the peloton.
So where was the yellow jersey won at the 2016 Tour de France? We’ve picked out eight key moments which led to a fourth British triumph in the last five years.
Stage eight – Pau to Bagneres-de-Luchon
It’s easy to forget now, two weeks later, but the GC men were inseparable after the first week of racing – a stark contrast to the 2015 Tour de France when the Classics-like stages in the opening seven days obliterated some riders’ GC hopes.
Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) carried the yellow jersey into the second Saturday of the Tour, but as stage eight departed Pau only seven seconds separated the next 15 riders in the general classification.
Froome changed all that on a stage featuring both the Col du Tourmalet and Col de Peyresourde, however.
When the peloton approached the summit of the Peyresourde together – Van Avermaet well behind on the stage by that point – it looked as though they were all waiting for battle to commence on the Queen Stage the following day.
But Froome had other ideas, flying clear over the summit and launching into a daredevil descent – banishing any suggestion descending is a weakness of his – to claim the stage win in Bagneres-de-Luchon and open up a small lead overall.
Stage nine – Vielha val d’Aran to Andorra Arcalis
Froome rolled out in yellow for the first time the following day, for a stage set to finish atop Andorra Arcalis – the highest summit finish of the 2016 Tour de France.
But with the steep climbs of the Andorran Pyrenees seemingly perfectly-suited to the likes of Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar), ending the day in yellow was another matter entirely.
The stage, however, showed the first signs of the Colombian’s weakness as he failed to punish Froome on the 10.1km (at 7.2 per cent) final climb.
In fact, it was Froome setting the pace in the GC group as hailstones and heavy rain battered the mountainside, despite Quintana having team-mate Jesus Herrada for company.
Only Adam Yates and Quintana could keep up with the Team Sky man in the end – on a stage won by the breakaway – as Froome maintained a 16-second lead atop the GC.
Stage 11 – Carcassone to Montpellier
Crosswinds made for a nervous bunch on stage 11 of this year’s race, but Team Sky rallied around Chris Froome to keep their man safe at the front of the bunch as splits began to form.
It was not without its hairy moments, however, as a strong gust caused a crash and took several Team Sky riders out – Froome taking a comfort break to wait for them to bridge back to the peloton, knowing the peloton would wait for the yellow jersey.
That tactic proved paid off and Froome was still near the front as the race appeared to be heading for a sprint finish in Montpellier. Green jersey Peter Sagan had other ideas, however, accelerating with team-mate Maciej Bodnar as the wind picked up again to ignite the stage.
Froome spotted an opportunity and, joined by team-mate Geraint Thomas, bridged over and join the move as Nairo Quintana looked around for his team-mates, watching Froome, Thomas, Sagan and Bodnar disappear into the distance.
The quartet powered clear and Sagan sprinted to victory, with the time bonuses awarded at the finish and a small gap to the peloton seeing Froome extend his advantage as the top of the GC to 28 seconds over Yates, with Quintana another seven seconds back.
Stage 12 – Montpellier to Chalet Reynard (Mont Ventoux)
High winds continued to wreak havoc the following day, forcing the shortening of stage 12 from the summit of Mont Ventoux to Chalet Reynard, six kilometres further down the mountain.
As a breakaway was allowed to go clear to contest the stage win, Froome was again in great form on the final climb – this time he, Richie Porte (BMC Racing) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) distanced the main GC group with a stinging attack.
The trio fought through the crowds and looked well set to put significant time into their rivals as Quintana in particular struggled to stay with the other GC men.
And then it all came to a shuddering halt – the TV moto in front of the three was forced to brake suddenly due to the roadside fans, Porte hit the back of it, and Froome and Mollema hit the back of the Australian.
A police bike then hit, and broke, Froome’s Pinarello Dogma F8Xlight and with his team car stuck further down the mountain, the 31-year-old decided to run up the mountain instead.
The neutral service car eventually caught up with Froome, but with the wrong pedals on the yellow Mavic bike, he continued to struggle.
By the time his team car arrived, Froome had lost more than a minute to the GC group but race commissaires intervened, awarding Froome and Porte the same time as Mollema at the finish – the Dutchman having been the only one able to remount immediately after the crash.
That meant Froome not only kept the yellow jersey, but actually extended his lead once again – ending the day 47 seconds clear of Yates and 54 ahead of Quintana.
Stage 13 – Bourg-Saint-Andeol to Le Caverne de Pont d’Arc
As sensible as it was, the decision of the race jury the previous day had been unprecedented and did cause some fans and rider to query it – but Froome put any doubts about his validity to wear the yellow jersey to bed in the individual time trial on stage 13.
Dutch champion Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) was in superb form on the 37.5km course to take the stage win, but Froome finished second on the day to put yet more time into his rivals and further show himself as the best all-round rider at the Tour.
Froome finished 67 seconds back on Dumoulin – in fact, only five riders were within two minutes of Dumoulin’s time as the general classification was blown apart.
Quintana lost more than two minutes to Froome, as did Porte – despite the Australian’s own time trialling prowess – and that ensured Froome finished the day 1’47” clear of the now second-placed Mollema in the new GC standings.
Stage 17 – Bern to Finhaut-Emosson
Froome successfully defended that lead into the second rest day, but had four mountain stages to negotiate before Paris, leaving it all very much to play for.
The first of those mountain stages, with a hors categorie summit finish at Finhaut-Emosson, showed Froome was in no mood to surrender the maillot jaune, however.
Excellent work by team-mate Wout Poels kept Froome at the forefront of proceedings in the GC group before former team-mate Porte attacked and only Froome could follow the move.
Once again Quintana was left unable to respond to Froome’s acceleration, and the Colombian lost contact with the other GC men, too, while Froome followed Porte’s wheel all the way to the finish line.
Froome’s already commanding lead had been turned into a huge advantage ahead of the mountain time trial – 2’27” to second-placed Mollema, 2’53” to Yates, 3’27” to Quintana in fourth and no other rider within four minutes.
Stage 18 – Sallanches to Megeve
On his way to his first Tour de France title in 2013, Chris Froome won a mountain time trial to cement his standing as race leader.
He maintained that on the descent into Megeve to win the stage – the only man to break the 31-minute mark on the day – and increase his overall lead significantly.
Mollema, second overall, limited his losses to within 90 seconds, but while the Dutchman ended the day still just one place behind Froome in the overall standings, the gap had now grown to 3’52” as Froome began to close in on the title.
Stage 19 – Albertville to Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc
While Froome now enjoyed a near-four minute lead at the top of the general classification, cycling can be a cruel mistress and the Tour de France is never over until the Paris finish line.
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