Team Sky reflect on Tour success
After a spectacular finish to the 100th Tour de France in Paris, Team Sky react to winning the biggest race in cycling with Chris Froome.
Last Updated: 23/07/13 3:07pm
After a spectacular finish to the 100th Tour de France in Paris, Team Sky reacted to winning the biggest race in cycling with Chris Froome.
After Marcel Kittel had claimed the final sprint on the Champs-Elysees, Froome dropped back with his six remaining team-mates to cross the line arm-in-arm – a magical moment after three tough weeks of racing.
The success brings back great memories for the team after Sir Bradley Wiggins made history 12 months earlier, winning Team Sky and Britain’s first Tour de France.
Reflecting on win number two, Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford admitted: “I don’t think you can ever get used to this, it’s quite breath-taking. The lads rode a fantastic race and there isn’t a better setting in cycling than the Champs-Elysees. It’s an iconic place and this year the sun is going down and it’s pretty emotional.
“It’s traditional that the team with the yellow jersey leads the race onto the Place de la Concorde, and that’s what the lads did, but it was a good race and a good sprint at the end.
"The lads then took their time a little bit to ride together as a sign of unity. This team has really stuck together – we lost [Vasil] Kiryienka and Eddie [Boasson Hagen], who both did a brilliant job – but those seven guys controlled things all through the Alps and that was unbelievable.”
Fitting 100th edition
A special event, victory over a tough route and on the centenary edition of La Grande Boucle made it all the more sweet for Brailsford.
“It was a difficult Tour to win and certainly, there were high points and difficult moments. I think when it is like that, you cherish the victory when it comes your way, and we have done this year.”
Richie Porte explained the reasoning behind the team dropping back at the famous finish, and how no-one within the line-up ever doubted their strength and resolve.
“This year we didn’t do the victory lap, so to have enough time on our rivals to sit off the back was nice,” said the Tasmanian. “We caused a bit of a break in the group, but I’m sure they’ll get over that (laughs). It was fantastic and something I’ll never forget.
“Everybody wanted to knock Team Sky down but we knew what we had. We lost two good, strong guys along the way but we still won the Tour de France so I think that speaks the loudest.”
Geraint Thomas provided one of the most inspiring stories of the race after the Welshman rode through three weeks with a fractured pelvis to reach Paris and play his part in a famous victory.
As the occasion began to sink in, Thomas admitted: “I thought I’d recovered from my injury but I’m pretty sore after those cobbles. It was such a hard three weeks. We were really up for those last three days in the Alps, and we coped with that challenge really well.
“The hanging around and the travelling before the stage meant I felt so bad, and it didn’t get any better to be honest. It was such a hard day. The Champs-Elysees doesn’t look hard but when you’re racing it’s the final nail in the coffin.
“The finish was just incredible. You dream of arriving in Paris and a few years ago you’d never have thought we’d be in a British team doing that for the second year in a row with a British yellow jersey.”
The famous stretch of French road was even sweeter for Thomas in 2013 after sacrificing his place in the victorious Tour squad last time out to chase his Olympic track ambitions.
“Me and Pete [Kennaugh] missed it last year and it was such a special moment. We don’t regret missing it but it was a hard moment to watch because we really wanted to be there, so to experience that today, and everything over the last three weeks, it’s amazing.”
Kennaugh himself has been a revelation in his Tour debut but admitted to be hanging on at the end of the race as the pace went through the roof.
“I thought the last stage was supposed to be the moment when you could soak it all up, he beamed. “But, oh my gosh, I have never experienced anything like that. My legs have felt bad for the last two or three days, I’m not going to lie, but I couldn’t soak anything up and I was just hanging on for grim death at the back. That little bit at the end, we pre-planned that earlier on today and that was something I’ll never forget, it was such a special moment.”
Another man completing his first Tour de France, Ian Stannard, was happy to soak up the atmosphere after the finish but admitted that three weeks inside the world’s biggest bike race can be stressful at times.
“This is great,” said the man from Essex. “The sun is setting, we’ve won the Tour de France and we’ve got the yellow jersey. It’s pretty awesome.
“It’s massively stressful and I’m quite thankful it’s all over to be honest. I can kick back and enjoy it now a bit and I’m looking forward to doing that with my team-mates and a few beers.”
Stannard also revelled in the moment on the famous final cobbles. “It was really nice,” he added. “The last time around the Champs-Elysees is a real with all the sprinters on the final stage. It’s pretty special for them to win so it’s as hard to stay in position and to look after Chris than it is in the Alps.”