Tour De France: Chris Froome Claims Historic Win On Mont Ventoux (PICTURES)

'I Really Can't Believe It'

Chris Froome's historic victory on Mont Ventoux last night should silence the Team Sky doubters, according to team principal Sir Dave Brailsford.

At the eerie, moon-like summit of one of the most feared climbs in the world, Froome took a Bastille Day victory difficult to better in the history of British cycling and extended his lead in the 100th Tour de France in the process.

After nearly six hours in the saddle and almost 19 kilometres of relentless climbing, Froome pulled clear of Nairo Quintana just as they were passing the memorial to Tom Simpson, which marks the spot where the first ever Briton to wear the yellow jersey died on this climb in the 1967 Tour.

As he crossed the line with one arm raised aloft, Froome extended his lead over second-placed Bauke Mollema to four minutes 14 seconds with Alberto Contador 11 seconds further back.

Froome celebrates his Mont Ventoux victory

Sky had delivered Froome to the foot of the mountain at the foot of the peloton and Peter Kennaugh and Richie Porte then both played key roles in helping him up the hillside.

After several days of answering questions about a squad hit by injury and elimination, Brailsford hit back last night.

"People have been questioning the team all week," he said. "Saying we aren't strong enough, we have only got seven riders, Geraint (Thomas) is riding with a broken pelvis, two guys crashing.

"People need to be more measured with their assessment. We have had a few challenges but like any good team, never write them off.

"When we are pushed and prodded and challenged and sometimes unfairly criticised in terms of the stick that Chris has taken, sometimes the best way to reply is with your legs. And that's what Chris has done."

Froome's win on this famous mountain puts his name in Tour history, but Sky will only be satisfied if it is another step on the way to overall victory in Paris next weekend.

Froome insisted he had never planned on taking victory, his only concern being to take more time out of Contador - something he did by finishing one minute 40 seconds ahead of the Spaniard.

"I thought I'd have to surrender the stage to Quintana at the end," Froome said. "My main objective was to get more of a buffer on the GC. But I didn't see myself winning that stage today - I really can't believe it."

The Team Sky rider poured so much effort into the win that, so close to the spot where Simpson died while operating on a cocktail of brandy and amphetamines, Froome had to be given oxygen at the finish.

"I can't remember ever needing oxygen before but I hope it's relatively normal given that it's a full-gas effort up to the finish," he said. "I'm feeling much better now."

Froome at least has a rest day to recover before a testing final week in the Alps, where Sky know danger still lurks despite another display of dominance.


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