The Latest: Tour chief: Flat stage key in battle of climbers
PARIS (AP) The Latest from the Tour de France (all times local):
The 102nd edition of the Tour de France culminated with a ”paradoxical” result, race chief Christian Prudhomme says: Two expert climbers battled for victory, but the flats made the difference.
Up until the next-to-last stage in the Alps, Chris Froome held on against a surging Nairo Quintana of Colombia to win his second Tour in three years by 1 minute, 12 seconds – the closest Tour victory margin since 2008.
The two were virtually equal in the mountains this year. But Froome got an early lead in Stage 2 in the Netherlands, outpacing the Colombian by 1:28 in that wind-swept leg.
After the race finish Sunday, Prudhomme said: ”It all played out in Zeeland, in the flat country.”
In recent years, skill in time-trials and mountains has been crucial to Tour victory. Time-trialing got lower billing this year.
Peter Sagan has made it four in a row.
The Slovak speedster has again taken home the green jersey awarded to the Tour’s best sprinter. The honor gives a bit of glory to his Tinkoff Saxo Bank team, whose leader Alberto Contador wasn’t a contender as had been expected before the race, and a personal consolation to him: Sagan finished second in five stages this year, but never won one.
The green jersey is awarded based on a points-system based around sprint sections during the stage, plus each stage finish. Andre Greipel of Germany, who won four stages in sprints including Sunday’s 21st and final leg, was Sagan’s runner-up.
Quipped Sagan, who had the green jersey pretty much locked up before Sunday: ”I’m happy I didn’t fall.”
Many French love to boast that the Champs-Elysees is the world’s most beautiful avenue. But for Tour de France debutant Warren Barguil, it’s one of the worst for cycling.
The 23-year-old Frenchman said aloud what many Paris cyclists know all too well: That the highly-trafficked paving stones have seen their fair share of wear, and it’s not exactly the best place for a smooth ride.
”The Champs-Elysees is not a very, very good road, let’s say,” Barguil told France-2 TV. ”It may be the worst in the Tour de France!”
Many bikes rattled on the various potholes in Sunday’s 21st and final stage, won by Germany’s Andre Greipel as Chris Froome of Britain won the three-week race.
Andre Greipel has shown again he’s simply the best sprinter at the Tour de France this year.
The hulking German made it four stage victories this year with a sprint victory on the Champs-Elysees in the 21st and final stage on Sunday, edging past France’s Bryan Coquard in second.
The powerful 33-year old Lotto-Soudal rider also collected the tenth Tour stage win of his career, and gave Germany a total of six stage wins including ones by Simon Geschke and Tony Martin – the most of any country at the race.
Greipel’s tally equals the number of stage wins that Vincenzo Nibali had on way to winning the Tour last year.
Resplendent in yellow and riding a canary yellow bike, Chris Froome has won his second Tour de France in three years, with a leisurely pedal into Paris to wrap up a spectacular three-week slog of furious racing that culminated with a thrilling late fight-back by the British rider’s toughest rival, Colombian Nairo Quintana.
Cheered on the Champs-Elysees under suitably rainy skies for Britain’s third win in the 112-year-old race, Froome took it easy on the last Stage 21, his work done having grimly resisted Quintana’s last-ditch assault on his hard-won Tour lead on Saturday on the final Alpine ascent.
Just as when Froome first won in 2013, Quintana is again runner-up, although the margin is much smaller this time. Froome and his teammates crossed the finish line together in a line, arms across each other’s shoulders, with Froome grinning in the middle.
Because of rain and slippery roads, Tour de France organizers have stopped the race clock, meaning Chris Froome is guaranteed his second victory just so long as he crosses the finishing line.
Normally, riders’ times would have been taken at the finish line after 10 loops up and down the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris. But to minimize the risk of crashes on the slick cobblestones, race organizers have decided to stop the clock at the beginning of the first loop.
That locks in Froome’s race lead over runner-up Nairo Quintana. The British rider must still ride the 10 laps to complete the full Tour distance. But he can now do so at his own pace, without the risk of crashing, leaving sprinters and their teams to ride off in search of the stage win.
The riders’ rain gear is out and Chris Froome is hoping for a mostly relaxed cruise to Paris, as the Briton sets off with the pack toward his second Tour de France victory.
Wearing the leader’s yellow jersey, Froome and other Tour stars posed for photos as Sunday’s 21st and final stage got under way leisurely from the western suburb of Sevres to Paris’ Champs-Elysees.
The pace of the race was expected to crescendo as the pack nears the famed Paris boulevard, where the day’s main contest was an expected sprint finish.
The 30-year-old Briton who won in 2013 has a lead of 1 minute, 12 seconds over second-place Nairo Quintana. That’s all but impossible to overcome over the flat and relatively short 109-kilometer (68-mile) stage.
Despite crashes and a ”hectic” atmosphere, Anna van der Breggen made it two straight Dutch victories in La Course by Le Tour de France women’s race on the Champs-Elysees, held on the same day as the Tour de France finishes.
The 25-year-old rider, who also won the Giro Rosa stage race in Italy this month, broke away on the rain-splattered Paris boulevard to beat Jolien D’hoore of Belgium, who was second, and Dutchwoman Amy Pieters in third – each 1 second behind.
”It was a really slippery road, it was hectic all day,” said Van Der Breggen on French TV. ”This race is really, really big for us.”
Marianne Vos won the race’s debut edition last year.