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Tour de France 2013 map_homeJust a fortnight after Andy Murray won the Wimbledon men’s singles, Chris Froome won the 100th Tour de France.

Last year’s Tour also had a British flavour, with Sir Bradley Wiggins’s victory. He went on to win cycling gold in the Olympics shortly afterward.

In 2012, Froome’s job was to support Wiggins in the Tour. This year, fellow Sky teammate Richie Porte did that for Froome.

Sir Dave Brailsford does sterling work in coaching Team Sky and his Team GB cyclists in the 2012 gave stunning gold medal performances. He runs a tight ship and his riders show a high degree of professionalism.

Chris Froome not only rode reliably every day but handled the press with aplomb.

This year’s Tour route was the toughest ever, with six highly challenging mountain stages. Froome won three stages and wore the yellow jersey continuously from Saturday, July 6. This was what Wiggins did in 2012.

The only stage France won was Gap-Alpe d’Huez on July 18. The French went mad with excitement. Christophe Riblon’s outstanding victory won him the Super-Combative jersey. Germany’s Marcel Kittel won the final stage on the Champs-Elysées. Britain won overall, and Chris Froome now has an impressive collection of 14 toy lions to pass on to his children and, perhaps, other young family members. Croatia’s Peter Sagan won the green jersey for the second year in a row. A Colombian, Nairo Quintana, won the polka dot jersey — King of the Mountains — and seized the penultimate stage on July 20, Colombia’s Independence Day. He also won the white jersey as the best young rider.  He came in second overall. In third was Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez, who celebrated the final stage by smoking a cigar — well done, that man. ITV4’s commentators told us that Rodriguez’s nickname in Spanish means ‘cigar’.

Speaking of smoking, ITV4 had a marvellous retrospective collection of old Tour photographs which they showed at the adverts. One was from the 1950s showing a rider relaxing with a cigarette. The caption read ‘Preparing for the Tour’.

The doping scandals of the past two decades have tarnished the Tour’s image immensely. It will take some time before it recovers and that will be only if it remains dope-free going forward.

However, there are other reasons — especially in France — why the intelligentsia criticise the Tour. They see it as populist. On the other hand, as French admirers of this three-week long endurance event point out, it is the only sporting spectacle that is a) absolutely free and b) right on one’s doorstep! Next year, the Tour opens once again in England — hurrah! — for three stages this time, from Leeds to London.

The international flavour of the Tour will continue to grow. Froome, who grew up in Kenya and South Africa (although he has held British nationality for several years), has inspired a number of young Kenyans, much to the delight of his first coach, David Kinjah.

On a familial note, Froome dedicated his win to his late mother. He said that, had it not been for her introducing him to Kinjah, he would still be watching the Tour on television!

France2 and France3 provided their usual stunning coverage, which ITV4 transmitted here in Britain. We were blessed with another year of full coverage of each stage — well done, chaps! ‘Sport for all’ is their slogan — and it’s free. Thank you!

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