Chris Froome secures historic victory in Vuelta
By Mark Crellin
Last Updated: 11/09/17 1:55pm
Chris Froome has won the Vuelta a Espana for the first time in his career after safely reaching the finishing line in Madrid on Sunday.
The Team Sky rider has become the first Briton to triumph in Spain and just the third man in history to win the Vuelta and the Tour de France in the same year.
Sunday's largely processional stage was won by top sprinter Matteo Trentin while Froome cruised home in 11th, having all but secured victory when he emerged unscathed from the final competitive stage on Saturday.
He beat four-time Grand Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali by two minutes and 15 seconds, with Russia's Ilnur Zakarin completing the podium.
Froome had previously finished runner-up in La Vuelta three times, including last year, but went one better this time and toasted the achievement with a glass of cava in the saddle, handed to him by a motorcycle camera crew during the 117.6km final stage.
"I've been trying for years and I've been second three times, so to win the Vuelta now is incredible," said Froome.
"For me it certainly has been harder to win the Vuelta than the Tour.
"Up until now my focus has been 100 per cent on the Tour de France and trying to survive the Vuelta, whereas this year the plan was to start the season later.
"Maybe I wasn't quite at my top, top for the Tour de France but it means I've been able to hold my form for longer and that has shown in this year's Vuelta."
Froome took the lead on stage three and was never caught, surviving a very demanding route, filled with sharp mountain climbs in conditions ranging from 40 degree celsius heat to rain and freezing cold on Angliru.
"I have to say it's probably the toughest Grand Tour I've ridden," said Froome.
Spanish great Alberto Contador had ended his fine career with a memorable victory on Saturday's stage and he was allowed to break from the peloton and ride by himself for a few moments as the fans applauded, before crossing the finishing line for the final time.
Trentin outpaced his rivals to take the stage win, his fourth of the race, ahead of Lorrenzo Manzin and Soren Kragh Andersen.
But Froome's 11th-place meant that he finished ahead of Trentin in the battle for the green jersey awarded to the man who tops the point classification standings.
Jacques Anquetil in 1963 and Bernard Hinault 15 years later are the only men to have matched Froome by winning the Tour and the Vuelta in the same year, and both did so when the Vuelta was held before the Tour rather than after it.