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Five things we learned from the 2017 Tour de France

Chris Froome, Team Sky, Marcel Kittel, Nairo Quintana and Richie Porte are the main talking points.

CYCLING 23/07/17 20:21
Five things we learned from the 2017 Tour de France

Chris Froome wrapped up his fourth Tour de France title and third in a row as Team Sky’s domination of cycling’s biggest race continued.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at five things we have learned over three weeks of racing.

Froome is putting his name in history

Froome might be Britain’s most under-appreciated sportsman right now. You could not find his name on the 16-strong shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award last year – even after he had become one of only eight men to have won the Tour three times. It is unlikely he will be clearing space on his mantelpiece in anticipation of winning the award this year either.

But whether Froome ever truly connects with British sports fans or not, his place in cycling history is becoming clear. This might have been his best win yet, taken on territory which did not play to his strengths, and against rivals who kept it close to the end.

He stands one shy of the all-time record of five Tour wins, jointly held by four greats of cycling – Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain. Given the stranglehold Froome and Sky seem to have over the Tour right now, it is not hard to imagine him joining them very soon. That would be an achievement up there with the very best in British sporting history.

Controversy does not stop Sky

The clouds that continue to hang over Team Sky could not rain on Froome’s parade. While the team remains the subject of a UK Anti-Doping investigation into allegations of wrongdoing they deny, Froome has remained serenely above the fray.

Whatever arguments have gone on between team principal Sir Dave Brailsford and the cycling press, or whatever awkward questions have been sent his way in media conferences, Froome has remain unruffled and unaffected.

That goes for all of Sky’s riders, in fact, who are happy to point the inquisitors in their boss’s direction and keep pedalling. While legitimate questions remain, a fifth Tour title from the last six editions shows it is having no impact on their performance.

Kittel is king of the sprinters once again

When Marcel Kittel won four stages in each of his first two Tours in 2013 and 2014, the German was hailed as the future of sprinting. Premature obituaries were written for the careers of Mark Cavendish and others as Kittel appeared to have the beating of them all. But a virus trashed his 2015 season and he would take only one stage in 2016 as Cavendish came roaring back.

If there was a feeling Kittel had burned brightly but quickly, the 29-year-old dispelled that this year with a dominant display in the opening two weeks. He took five victories for Quick-Step Floors, able to overhaul huge deficits over his rivals in the final hundred or so metres more than once as he appeared to be playing a different game to everybody else.

The Tour ended on a bitter note as a crash robbed him of the chance to take the points leaders’ green jersey for the first time in his career, but the Tour served as notice that the real Kittel is back.

Giro-Tour double is off the agenda

Nairo Quintana
Nairo Quintana bit off more than he could chew in targeting a Tour-Giro D’Italia double (Peter Dejong/AP)

Unperturbed by Alberto Contador’s experience in 2015, Nairo Quintana built his season around an ambitious plan to contend for both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour. No man has managed to win both in the same season since Marco Pantani in 1998, but Quintana felt he could be the one.

However, it did not go at all well. He missed out on the pink jersey in Italy to Tom Dumoulin, and then looked a shadow of his usual self in the Tour, limping to 12th place – the first time he has failed to finish the race on the podium.

Thibaut Pinot was less ambitious but fared little better. After finishing fourth in the Giro he came to his home race hunting stage wins. But he never looked close to taking one before abandoning the race ill on stage 17. If this is the best advert anyone could provide for the Giro-Tour double, do not expect anyone to attempt it again for some time to come.

Porte can’t catch a break

This was supposed to be Richie Porte’s year. The BMC rider came to the Tour in the form of his life, confident he could challenge his former Sky team-mate Froome on all terrain. But a frightening crash on the Mont du Chat on stage nine ended all of that as the Australian was carted off to hospital in an ambulance.

It continues a miserable run of misfortune for Porte when it comes to the grand tours. His 2015 tilt at the Giro d’Italia for Sky was ruined by a puncture, a time penalty and ultimately an injury which forced him to abandon the race, while his first Tour in BMC colours last year was wrecked before it had barely begun as he shipped almost two minutes on the second stage because of a mechanical problem.

Porte has the physical attributes to be a grand tour contender, but he must still show the mental fortitude – and the fortune – to challenge over three weeks.

Chris Froome expects tricky all-round test in 2018 Tour de France

Chris Froome expects tricky all-round test in 2018 Tour de France

Chris Froome expects tricky all-round test in 2018 Tour de France

Chris Froome expects tricky all-round test in 2018 Tour de France

Chris Froome expects tricky all-round test in 2018 Tour de France

Chris Froome expects tricky all-round test in 2018 T...

The route for next year’s Tour de France was unveiled on Tuesday.

The route for next year’s Tour de France was unveiled on Tuesday.

The route for next year’s Tour de France was unveiled on Tuesday.

The route for next year’s Tour de France was unveiled on Tuesday.

The route for next year’s Tour de France was unveiled on Tuesday.

The route for next year’s Tour de France was unveiled on Tuesday.