Historic Vuelta triumph cements Froome’s legacy

Chris Froome believes he has secured his status as one of cycling's all-time greats as he stands on the brink of a historic Tour de France-Vuelta a Espana double.

Historic Vuelta triumph cements Froome's legacy
British cyclist Christopher Froome smiles as he sports the overall leader's red jersey on the podium of the 20th stage of the 72nd edition of "La Vuelta" Tour of Spain cycling race on Saturday. PHOTO:
Froome extended his lead over Vincenzo Nibali to 2min 15sec in Saturday's penultimate stage of the Vuelta with only a traditional parade through Madrid to come on Sunday.
The Briton will become only the third rider to ever win the Tour and Vuelta in the same year and the first since the Vuelta was moved to after the Tour in the cycling calendar back in 1995.
“I could only have dreamed to be in this position, to be making history,” said Froome. “To be the first British rider to win the Vuelta. The first rider to win the Tour and go onto win the Vuelta. This is sealing my place in the history of the sport.”
Froome's Tour de France success last month was the fourth of his storied career. However, he had always fallen just short previously at the Vuelta as a runner-up in 2011, 2014 and 2016.
“Each victory is so different. Each victory tells its own story. Today was such an emotional moment,” added Froome, who broke down in tears at the finish line.
“Even more so coming after the Tour de France and having won the Tour, this was an even bigger challenge. It's a huge challenge, a huge undertaking, and to reach the summit knowing I have the victory pretty much secured with just the procession into Madrid tomorrow is just such an overwhelming feeling.”
Filled with brutal mountain climbs like the finale to Alto de l'Angliru on Saturday in conditions varying across three weeks of racing from searing heat in the south to wind and rain in recent days in the north, Froome believes the Vuelta provides an even stiffer test than La Grande Boucle.
“The Vuelta represents a different kind of bike racing. It's more of a physical challenge than the Tour given the number of
mountaintop finishes, the aggression, the conditions we've had.
“We've had days of over 40 degrees, days like today of 10 degrees and raining, days of strong winds. It's really brutal.”
Having come so close to standing atop the podium in Madrid with the leader's red jersey in recent years, Froome altered his entire preparation for the season to target a historic double.
His Tour win was a less spectacular one as he failed to win a stage in seeing off Rigoberto Uran by just 54 seconds for the yellow jersey.
However, backed by incredible support from his Sky teammates, Froome has looked in supreme form in recent weeks, taking both stage nine and individual time trial victory on stage 16.
“The Vuelta is a race I genuinely enjoy doing and I came close last year,” he added. “I believe last year tactically I got caught out in the Vuelta. I won the Tour and finished second in the Vuelta. That gave me a lot of motivation and showed me it was possible to do the double.
“This year I structured my season very differently. I did very few races in the first part of the season and arrived at the Tour a little on the fresh side, not necessarily enough racing in my legs, but that has helped me to be really strong throughout the three weeks here at the Vuelta.”
By AFP's Kieran Canning


VIDEO: Why you may struggle to buy a bike in Europe in 2021

Demand for bicycles has soared in Europe during the coronavirus pandemic, but conversely the global supply is at record low levels, with consumers having to wait months or over a year for their bike of choice.

VIDEO: Why you may struggle to buy a bike in Europe in 2021
Photo: Stocksnap/Pixabay

Bikes are projected to outsell cars in Europe by two to one by 2030.   

But 2021 will not be an easy year to buy a bike in many European countries, especially if you have a particular model in mind. 

Firstly, there's been a huge surge in demand for bikes during the pandemic, as Europeans looked for ways to stay fit and move around more freely without having to worry about being exposed to Covid-19 on public transport.

On the flip side, bike production in China, which supplies almost the entire global market, has practically ground to a halt.

The same can be said for bicycle accessories and components, which are either not being produced in Chinese factories currently or held up for months in ports in Asia due to the reduction of capacity in shipping.


In this short report, video producer Alex Dunham explores the issue of Europe's bike shortage in 2021.