Chris Froome takes home fourth Tour de France title, Aussie Matthews claims green

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    Riding a bright yellow bike to match his leader’s jersey, defending champion Chris Froome won his fourth and most challenging Tour de France title on Sunday.

    The 32-year-old Kenyan-born British rider finished 54 seconds ahead of Colombian Rigoberto Uran overall, the smallest margin of his wins.

    “This Tour has been my toughest yet. I want to pay tribute to all riders for their sportsmanship,” Froome said. “We raced hard together, we suffered together.”

    Australian Michael Matthews won the green jersey awarded for the Tour’s top sprinter.

    Matthews became the third Australian to win the green jersey, all this decade, following Robbie McEwen and Baden Cooke.

    “It’s really a dream come true to stand there with the green jersey,” the 26-year-old Matthews said.

    This was the third successive overall win for Team Sky’s Froome. His first in 2013 came the year after former teammate Bradley Wiggins sparked off an era of British dominance.

    His margin of victory over Colombian Nairo Quintana in 2013 was by more than four minutes. Quintana pushed him much harder in 2015, finishing only 1:12 back, but Froome beat Frenchman Romain Bardet by 4:05 last year. Bardet was third this time.

    Froome looked emotional as he lifted the race winner’s bouquet of flowers, his eyes seemingly watering. Then, smiling broadly, he gave a thumbs-up to the crowd before going to pick up his young son and walking back onto the podium with him in his arms.

    “I want to dedicate this victory to my family. Your love and support makes everything possible,” he said. “I also want to thank my team Sky (for your) dedication and passion.”

    Then, switching to an admirably improving French, Froome addressed the Parisian crowd.

    “I wanted to thank the French fans, thank you for the welcome and your generosity,” said Froome, who was nevertheless loudly jeered in Marseille on Saturday. “More than 100 years ago you created this beautiful race. Your passion for this race makes it really special. I fell in love with this race.”

    Bardet placed two minutes, 20 seconds behind him. But he denied Spaniard Mikel Landa – Froome’s teammate – a podium spot by just one second. Italian Fabio Aru, who briefly led the race, finished fifth, 3:05 behind.

    As per tradition, the 21st stage was reserved for sprinters and mostly a procession for Froome and the other overall leaders.

    Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen won it in a dash to the line, edging German rider Andre Greipel and Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen.

    Moments later, Froome and the rest of the peloton crossed the line after eight laps of an eye-catching circuit around the city’s landmarks, finishing as usual on the famed Champs-Elysees.

    Froome now needs only one more title to match the Tour record of five shared by Frenchmen Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, Belgian Eddie Merckx and Spaniard Miguel Indurain.

    © AP 2017