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Froome: Fourth Tour title was the toughest

Booed by the locals in Marseille 24 hours earlier, Chris Froome charmed huge crowds in Paris with a classy victory speech after claiming his "toughest" Tour de France title yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Briton was once showered with urine thrown by fans during the 2015 edition before wiping himself down to claim his second title in cycling's most famous race.

Two years on, he has doubled that total after riding into the capital with a 54-second advantage over Colombia's Rigoberto Uran, with Frenchman Romain Bardet in third place.

Froome, 32, now stands just one short of the record five titles achieved by Belgian Eddy Merckx, Spain's Miguel Indurain and French duo Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault.

While French cyclists may not flock to buy replica Team Sky jerseys any time soon, they are at least beginning to respect Froome's astonishing achievements.

He looked emotional on the podium after being presented with the yellow jersey that Team Sky monopolised for all but two days of the three-week race, first with Geraint Thomas then with Froome who held off his rivals with the help of his teammates.

"This Tour has been my toughest challenge yet. The performances of my rivals have pushed me harder than ever before," Froome said, reading from notes that he managed to drop while addressing the onlookers.

"I want to pay tribute to all the riders for their sportsmanship over the past three weeks. We race hard against each other, we suffer together but the most special thing is the camaraderie and friendship within the peloton."

Froome, who silenced the boos of the partisan, Bardet-supporting Marseille fans with a time trial that effectively won him the race, failed to take a stage this year - unlike in his 2013, 2015 and 2016 victories when he had bigger winning margins.

He recently signed a new three-year contract with Team Sky. - REUTERS

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