Tour de France 2013: 10 steps to glory for Chris Froome

How Froome went one better this time and ascended to the top of the podium

1. Hit the ground running

Chris Froome repeated the same training program at altitude in the Canaries throughout the spring that had proved so successful in 2012. But this time he added a string of stage race successes from February onwards starting with the Tour of Oman, continuing with the Critérium International in March, the Tour of Romandie in May and the Critérium du Dauphiné in June.

2. Be the leader

Ever since Froome was revealed to be the strongest climber of the 2012 Tour and finished second overall, the big question for Sky was who would lead in the 2013 Tour – the defending champion Sir Bradley Wiggins or Froome. But while Sky insisted it was always going to be Froome, it was only when Wiggins confirmed ongoing knee injury issues that Froome’s Tour leadership became unquestionable.

3. Make your intentions known early

A neat little attack on the first short, sharp climb of the Tour on stage two did not earn Froome any time. But as he put it “it’s nice to keep people on their toes”. In fact, after seeing how easily he dropped them Froome’s rivals were more worried that on the mountains they would be on their knees.

4. Knock ’em out In the mountains

After a solid team time trial, Froome and Team Sky’s first major demonstration of power came on the first Pyrenean stage. Froome’s key wing-man, Australian Richie Porte shredded the field to just Froome and Alejandro Valverde, then the Briton stormed away earlier than planned for the yellow jersey and the stage win. As a big cherry on the cake for Sky, Porte took second in the stage and second overall.

5. Go your own way

After ripping the Tour apart on one Pyrenean stage, Sky’s rivals struck back with a vengeance on the next. On a day when Porte lost 18 minutes, and team-mates Vasil Kiryenka abandoned and Peter Kennaugh fell into a ravine (but was fortunately not badly injured) Froome was isolated from his team with over 100 kilometres to go. The only  good news was he held on to his lead – and didn’t lose his cool.

6. Build your lead

Second behind World Time Trial Champion Tony Martin in the Tour’s first individual time trial was enough for Froome to double his overall advantage on Alberto Contador and put three minutes between himself and Valverde, his then closest pursuer. “There’s Froome and then there’s the rest of us.”

7. Sky’s the limit

A mass attack first by Mark Cavendish’s Omega Pharma team indirectly led to Valverde losing his second place. But a second mass ambush by the Saxo Tinkoff team of Contador (above centre) saw Froome retain the lead, but lose 69 seconds. Still with a significant overall advantage of nearly three minutes, the Briton’s team were once again exposed as vulnerable. Not Froome though.

8. Strike two in the mountains

Knock-out blow number three for Froome, and the day when he arguably made the Tour his for keeps. Attacking with a devastating charge seven kilometres from the summit of Mont Ventoux, France’s hardest single climb, shedding Contador and then catching and dropping Nairo Quintana made Froome Britain’s first victor ever on the Ventoux. A day for British cycling fans to treasure.

9. Hold the moral high ground

A scary near-crash on a dangerous descent on stage 15 was an apt reminder that in cycling, as Froome put it, “one day you’re doing brilliantly and thinking about winning, the next you can be lying in the ditch”. Froome, perhaps unfairly, blamed Contador for taking too many risks on the descent as the high-speed Spaniard came off on a corner and almost took Froome in his wake. Fortunately, both could continue.

10. Sugar the pill

Froome wobbled  scarily close to disaster on the Alpe d’Huez when he had a hypoglycaemia attack.Energy gels were quickly found, and of a 20 second penalty Froome was well en route to Paris again. But for a moment it looked like curtains.

What Froome said: My results are not going to be stripped 10 years down the line

29 JUNE – STAGE 1

“Not sure I’ve ever looked forward to getting on my bike as much as I am today.”

Looking ahead to Tour on Twitter

5 JULY – STAGE 7

“I’m glad to get to the mountains – it will be definitely be a fight on the climb but this is what we’ve trained for.”

The mountains started the next day

6 JULY – STAGE 8 (51sec lead)

“My team has done a fantastic job and to repay my team-mates with a stage win, and Richie [Porte] coming second, I couldn’t have asked for more.”

On stage victory

 “It’s an absolute honour to wear the yellow jersey but there’s still a long way to Paris!”

On yellow jersey

7 JULY – STAGE 9   (1min 25 sec)

“I know the results I get are not going to be stripped 10 years down the line. For me it is a bit of a personal mission to show that the sport has changed.”

On drug taking in the sport

10 JULY – STAGE 11 (3min 25 sec)

“The objective today was to try and take the maximum time  possible from them. ”

On extending lead over rivals

11 JULY – STAGE 12 (3 min 25 sec)

“Tough day today losing Eddie BH from our line-up with a fractured shoulder.”

On team-mate Boasson Hagen

13 JULY – STAGE 14 (2min 28sec)

“Having Brad [here] would have definitely upped our ranks. Both in the mountains and the flats.”

On the absent Sir Bradley Wiggins

14 JULY – STAGE 15 (4min 14sec)

“Today is a day I will treasure for the rest of my life. I did not imagine this. This climb is so historic, it means so much. I did not see myself winning.”

After his crucial victory on top of Mont Ventoux

15 JULY – REST DAY

 “We’ve slept on volcanoes to get ready for this, and here I am accused of being a cheat and a liar. That’s not cool.”

On further doping questions

16 JULY – STAGE 16 (4MIN 14 SEC)

“He went a little bit too fast and couldn’t control his own speed.”

Hits out at the riding of main rival Alberto Contador after they almost collided

17 JULY – STAGE 17 (4min 34sec)

“Massive thanks to the support team. Everything worked like clockwork.”

Grateful after winning time-trial

18 JULY – STAGE 18 (5min 11 sec)

“It was not easy, it was really low on sugar levels. I asked Richie to get me an energy gel from the team car and he gave me that to get me through the stage. Technically it was Richie that got the gel, but the rules are the rules.”

After incurring a 20sec penalty for an illegal feed ascending the  Alpe d’Huez

19 JULY – STAGE 19 (5min 11 sec)

“It would be very hard for anybody to take five minutes  on me in the last stage, but I will need to stay focused. One final big effort and  then we’ll be able to relax a little.”

After the penultimate climb

What they said about Froome: ‘Superior to everyone’

“He’s not afraid to tell his guys what to do and what tempo he wants to set. It helps to have a leader that communicates so well.”

Team Sky colleague Richie Porte

“Froome is very superior to everyone in the mountains. I had enough trouble climbing at our pace as it was, so hats off to him. There’s really not much more you can say. Froome is incredibly strong.”

Tour rival Alberto Contador

“He’s a phenomenon. His natural talent is off the scale and then there’s his work ethic and his drive to go with that. It’s clearly that of a Tour winner and I think he’s got the mentality to keep doing it for a long time.”

Scottish rider David Millar

“It is infuriating. If he wasn’t performing they’d be asking why he was not performing and criticising him for not succeeding. And if he does succeed, well, there’s a reason for it and it’s something suspicious.”

Sir Chris Hoy

“Chris has really stepped up, he’s delivered now and he looks like he’s going to be there for a few years to win a few Tours maybe.”

Sir Bradley Wiggins

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