‘In Winner’s Words’- Chris Froome
May 20, 2020
(Extract from The Road Book 2018)
Chris Froome won the Giro d’Italia for the first time in his career. With that victory he completed a remarkable hattrick of Grand Tour victories, and simultaneously held all three titles. However, the race had begun with his future far from certain, as his ‘adverse analytic finding’ case from the 2017 Vuelta remained unresolved.
It was madness.
I knew from the word Go, that I’d done nothing wrong. But I felt as if I was being hunted for the whole season, to be honest. It felt horrible. It’s the one thing I feel really passionate about
– riding my bike clean. To have that in question, to have the naysayers out there equipped with their pitchforks, it made the victory even sweeter for me, being able to win that Giro and turn it around, in the fashion that I did.
It was a pretty long shot, literally. It was the kind of move you’d make ten times, and nine times it wouldn’t work. But on that day, it was the right set of circumstances, the perfect storm. It wasn’t a textbook move on that Stage 19, the Colle delle Fenestre. I went with over 80km to go, and won the stage by over three minutes.
The following day it was still so close between me and Tom Dumoulin going into the final big, uphill finish. It was such a tough stage. It still wasn’t over, in my mind, until I got to the point where Dumoulin launched his first attack, at the bottom of the final climb. We still had the whole climb to go up, but just judging from that initial moment … that was his move, to get away and win the Giro. But I think it only took me about a minute or thirty seconds to reel him back in. It was that feeling when I got back to him, after his first kick, that was the moment when I realised he didn’t have it. Even though it was on the lower slopes of the climb, I could just feel from the way I felt and from his body language, when I closed the gap to him, that he didn’t have it to drop me and get that 30-odd seconds he needed to get the jersey off my shoulders.
When I caught him, I could see it in his expression, his face. His face told the story this race was over: ‘I’m not going to win it.’ And just seeing that allowed me to feel, suddenly, that I’d done it. That it was over. All I needed to do was just follow him and that would be it. Game over. Mission complete.
Getting to the point where I am now, where I’ve won six Grand Tours, I’ve got a new-found respect for what it takes just to win one Grand Tour. My greatest Grand Tour victory? I’m not sure that’s the right word. But it was my most ingenious. That was the moment of my season this year.