Chris Froome secured another piece of history by backing up his win in the Tour de France with victory in the Vuelta a Espana.
No rider had won the Tour and the Vuelta in the same year since the Spanish Grand Tour was moved from April to August in 1995, but Froome proved too strong for the likes of Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador.
He fended off a host of challenges in the final week, flexed his muscles in the timetrial and withstood a punishing final mountain stage before rolling into Madrid for victory.
Nibali and Ilnur Zakarin made up the podium, but they were two minutes, 15 seconds and two minutes, 51 seconds respectively behind the Brit.
“I obviously couldn’t be happier with the result,” Froome said, per the Vuelta’s official website. “It was a competition to be won and that’s it. I’m still coming to terms with everything. It’s been such an incredible journey… Just the fact that nobody’s ever won the Tour and then La Vuelta afterwards, it’s incredible to be able to do it.”
The Vuelta win capped a brilliant summer for Froome, who made a poor start to the year to leave some questioning his readiness for the Grand Tours – but he answered his critics with a fourth win in the Tour de France.
Rather than put his feet up, the Team Sky rider felt it was an opportune time to make his bid for Tour-Vuelta history.
He was a hot favourite to take glory and did not disappoint his fans. Froome took the jersey on the third stage, the first of the mountain stages, and reinforced his position in the red jersey by taking victory on Stage Nine. It was a punishing drag up the Cumbre del Sol, but Froome had the power in his legs to make a statement.
Froome came under attack on Stages 14 and 15, but held on to the jersey and hit back with a dominant display in the timetrial to open up a cushion.
The 32-year-old felt the effort of his stunning timetrial the following day, as he lost a chunk of time thanks to a punishing attack from Contador – who was not strong enough for victory but gave a brave show in his final race before heading into retirement.
The final challenge came on Stage 20, with the massive climb up Alto de l’Angliru. In his final Grand Tour, Contador was determined to go out in a blaze of glory in front of his adoring Spanish public.
The Angliru is one of the most punishing climbs in cycling, but it held no terrors for Contador who attacked with six kilometres to go and had enough in the tank to claim the stage by 17 seconds.
Froome was content to let Contador go, knowing he had enough of a buffer for overall glory, and he claimed third on the stage.
He had the luxury of being able to roll into Madrid in the final stage to add Vuelta glory to his Tour de France successes, but Froome put a cherry on the cake by claiming the points classification as well.