Chris Froome brought down the curtain on his Team Sky/Ineos career on Sunday, describing it as “a love story which lasted 11 years”.
The 35-year-old captured the Tour de France four times with the outfit as well as the Vuelta a Espana twice and a single Giro d’Italia.
‘VERY EMOTIONAL DAY’
Next year, he will compete for Israel Start-Up Nation.
“It’s a love story which lasted 11 years,” Froome said at the end of the 2020 Vuelta.
“It was a very emotional day, my last with the team. I had this on my mind and a lot of memories came back to me.”
The Kenya-born British rider won the Tour de France in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
He was Giro winner in 2018 and Vuelta champion in 2011 and 2017.
On Sunday, he was finally presented with his 2011 Vuelta trophy after original winner Juan Jose Cobo was disqualified for doping last year.
“What comes back to me is 2011, my first victory on a Grand Tour, it was the first time that I reached this level and I received this trophy this morning,” said Froome.
He first knew about his 2011 Vuelta win as he recovered in an intensive care unit after a horror training crash last year which kept him out the 2019 Tour de France.
This year’s Vuelta was his first Grand Tour since that nightmare.
“I was in ICU still when I was told: ‘Congratulations, you’ve won La Vuelta.’ That was a really strange feeling,” he said.
“That was such a special race. It’s where I first discovered myself as a Grand Tour rider and a GC contender.
“It gave me confidence to then go on to the Tour de France, to keep targeting Grand Tours.”
Froome was never a contender in this year’s Vuelta, finishing 98th some 3 hours, 34 minutes and 14 seconds behind winner Primoz Roglic.
Instead, Froome’s role was dedicated to supporting team-mate Richard Carapaz in the Ecuadorian’s bid to catch Roglic.
Carapaz had led the race for five stages, but was unable to deny his Slovenian rival a second successive Vuelta title.
Carapaz eventually finished as the runner-up.