Froome crowned Tour de France winner in Paris

Chris Froome was crowned winner of the 2013 Tour de France on Sunday as the 100th edition of the race drew to a close on the famous Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Froome crowned Tour de France winner in Paris
Chris Froome clad in the yellow jersey that he has made his own. Photo: Pascal Guyot/AFP

Britain's Chris Froome was crowned champion of the 100th edition of the Tour de France as Germany's Marcel Kittel powered his way to his fourth win on the 21st and final stage on Sunday.

Team Sky's Froome, the winner of three stages in this edition, claimed his aiden yellow jersey with a winning margin of 4min 20sec on second-placed Colombian Nairo Quintana of Movistar.

"I think it's going to take a while to sink in," said a triumphant Froome, who succeeded teammate and compatriot Bradley Wiggins, absent this year, as
the yellow jersey champion.

"It's really has been a special edition of the Tour de France this year. Every day I woke up knowing I faced a fresh challenge… and I have to thank all my teammates for helping me achieve this dream."

Race debutant Quintana, who moved up to second place thanks to his maiden stage win at the summit finish of Annecy-Semnoz on Saturday, secured the race's white jersey for the best young rider and the best climber's polka dot jersey.

He was joined on the podium by Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), third at 5:04 and one place ahead of former two-time winner Alberto Contador of Spain, who slipped to fourth on Saturday's penultimate stage.

Slovakian Peter Sagan of Cannondale won the points competition's green jersey for the second successive year with a tally of 409 points and a 97-point lead on former winner Mark Cavendish of Britain.

Argos sprinter Kittel ended Cavendish's hopes of a fifth consecutive win on the Champs Elysees when he outsprinted the Omega-Pharma sprinter and German Andre Greipel of Lotto in a thrilling dash for the line.

Greipel, the winner of one stage, finished second with Cavendish, a close third.

It left Kittel, with four stage wins, as the top sprinter of this year's race and allowed the German to close the race as he opened it having won the opening stage from Porto Vecchio to Bastia.

"Four! I can't believe it," said Kittel. "It was a dream of mine to win on the Champs Elysees and now I've done it. I'm so proud."

Froome began the final stage with a lead of 5:03 on Quintana — the largest margin since disgraced American Lance Armstrong claimed his sixth win in 2004 with a lead of six minutes on German Andreas Kloden.

However, the Briton, who was unchallenged on a final stage which is traditionally contested by the sprinters, lost time to the Colombian in the final, frantic laps of a packed-out circuit in the French capital.

Froome thus becomes the second successive Briton to win the race after teammate and compatriot Bradley Wiggins, who made history as Britain's first winner in 2012, when Froome finished runner-up.

The 28-year-old Froome, born in Nairobi, won three stages on this year's race — two on mountaintop finishes and one time trial — to take his tally to

His performances on this year's race, the first since the downfall of Armstrong, raised eyebrows among sceptics.

Team Sky chief Dave Brailsford, however, maintained that Froome and his team are clean and that in the Kenyan-born Briton, the sport is in "safe hands".

"Chris really deserved this win, he worked so hard for it," said Brailsford, who helped orchestrate British track cycling's rise to world and Olympic domination in the past decade before turning his sights on road racing.    

"If you look at the future of cycling, I think in a rider like Chris the sports is in safe hands. There are no doubts about our team, no doubts whatsoever."


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Tour de France stage 18: Alpe d’Huez awaits

With the peloton facing the mighty and mythical climb up to Alpe d'Huez, not just once but twice on Thursday, stage 18 looks set to be the most dramatic day of racing in the Tour de France so far. See the video preview.

Tour de France stage 18: Alpe d'Huez awaits
One of the hairpin bends on the mythical Alpe d'Huez. Jean-Pierre Clatot/AFP


With two climbs of the mighty Alpe d'Huez in store, Thursday's 18th stage of the Tour de France has all the makings of an epic, as long as the weather is not too unkind.

The 172.5-kilometre ride from Gap north to the finish 1,850 metres up is the Queen stage of this year's Tour, with three category-two climbs lying in wait as well as the double ascent of what is one of the most famous mountains in the history of the race.

The first climb starts in Bourg d'Oisans and takes the peloton all the way up the 21 bends of the road to the summit, each one with a plaque containing the name of a former stage winner on the mountain.

However, instead of going all the way to the top, the riders will turn off early for a short descent before taking on a climb that has never featured in the Tour before, the category two Col de Sarenne.

Its summit is at just under 2,000 metres, but it is the hair-raising downhill section rather than the climb here which will have kept riders awake on Wednesday night.

As long as they survive that, they will go all the way up the Alpe this time, all 13.8km at an average gradient of 8.1 percent.

All of this will be played out to a backdrop of hundreds of thousands of fans who will line the road up the mountain, including huge numbers of Dutch, who always flock here when the Tour passes, thanks in large part to the country's proud tradition of success on the climb.

Three riders from the Netherlands have won on L'Alpe d'Huez twice, including Joop Zoetemelk, the last Dutchman to win the yellow jersey back in 1980.

On this occasion the Tour is Chris Froome's to lose, and he will be dreaming of recording a fourth stage win so far, while Alberto Contador tries desperately to close the gap.

However, race organisers will be desperately hoping that the weather does not put a spanner in the works – storms are forecast throughout the day in the French Alps and there have been rumours that the second climb of the Alpe may have to be cancelled.

(See a video review of the stage courtesy of Global Cycling Network)