Froome wins Giro amid doping probe
ROME – Agence France-Presse
Britain’s Chris Froome has completed a sensational comeback to win the Giro d’Italia for a rare Grand Tour treble which could be in danger if he is sanctioned by anti-doping authorities.
Froome, 33, became the first Briton to win the race in the Giro’s 101-year history after a 115km closed circuit race through the streets of the Italian capital on May 27.
But his presence was not without controversy as he was competing despite an ongoing investigation after returning an adverse analytical finding during his Tour of Spain win last year.
Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford insisted Froome was able to perform as he did because he “100 percent knows that he has done nothing wrong.”
Riding a pink bicycle, to match his leader’s jersey his triumph on Rome’s Imperial Forums, where Ireland’s Sam Bennett took the 21st and final stage, capped a long chaotic journey for the Briton.
From the departure in Jerusalem, a historical novelty of this Giro, to the Alps of Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta, the four-time Tour de France winner endured what he called “the greatest battle of my career.”
Sitting fourth overall three days before the finish, Froome seized the race leader’s pink jersey on May 25 after capping a 80km solo breakaway with a stage win, and held it all the way to Rome.
Froome is now the reigning champion in all three of cycling’s Grand Tours -- the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana -- and becomes only the third rider to achieve the feat after Belgian Eddy Merckx (1972/73) and France’s Bernard Hinault (1982/83).
“I’m still pinching myself. I can’t believe I’m here,” said the six-time Grand Tour winner. “This is the dream to have all three jerseys in the space of ten months. It’s an incredible feeling.”
Froome finished 46 seconds ahead of defending champion Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) of the Netherlands in the overall standings, with Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) third at 4min 57sec.
Froome has continued to compete despite providing an adverse analytical finding in his urine for double the permitted amount of the asthma drug salbutamol when he won in Spain last year.
The Briton has a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) allowing him to use salbutamol and escaped a provisional suspension, although the case has yet to be resolved by cycling’s world ruling body the UCI.