Chris Froome became the first British man to win the Giro d’Italia as he completed the set of Grand Tour victories with his third successive triumph.
Having safely negotiated Sunday’s 115-kilometre, largely ceremonial final stage in Rome, the 33-year-old Team Sky rider finished 46 seconds clear of second-placed Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, the 2017 Giro champion, in the general classification.
Froome’s sixth Grand Tour title, following last year’s fourth Tour de France win and maiden La Vuelta victory, sees him become the seventh man to have won all three races and just the third to hold the trio of titles simultaneously – Eddy Merckx in 1973 and Bernard Hinault nine years later the others to have achieved the feat.
Froome said on Eurosport: “I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet, but I’m sure it will over the next few days once I’ve had a bit of time to reflect.
“It has just been incredible. Obviously for any cyclist this is the dream. To have all three leaders’ jerseys in the space of 10 months is just incredible, incredible feeling. I’m still pinching myself.”
Froome had moved into the overall lead on Friday as he won stage 19 with a stunning ride, going from fourth in the GC, three minutes and 22 seconds off the top, to 40 seconds clear of nearest rival Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), and that extended to 46 seconds on Saturday as he all but ensured his status as champion.
He not only wore a pink jersey but also rode a pink bike on Sunday during a 21st stage that was won by Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe).
With three stage victories, having also won the seventh and 12th, Bennett becomes the most successful Irish rider in the Giro’s history for stage wins.
Froome, who has added to his Grand Tour haul while controversy generated by his adverse analytical finding for Salbutamol at last year’s La Vuelta remains ongoing, added: “It was great to be able to soak up the atmosphere here in Rome, all the monuments, the crowds.
“It was a great atmosphere out on the roads and that side definitely didn’t disappoint.
“My relationship with this race – I’ve always been a little bit afraid of coming here and really targeting it, just because of the demands of the race, and it is so different to any other race that exists.
“To be here in this position now, to have won the race, I can’t quite believe it myself.”