|Chris Froome powers to top of Mont Ventoux|
On France’s national Bastille Day holiday, he became the first British stage winner on the mountain where his countryman, Tom Simpson, died from a lethal cocktail of exhaustion, heat, and doping at the 1967 Tour. The final burst of acceleration Froome used to shake off his last exhausted pursuer, Colombian Nairo Quintana, was close to a stone memorial to Simpson on the mountain’s barren upper reaches.
Mouth agape from the effort, filling his lungs with the thinning mountain air, Froome thrust his right arm upward in victory as he became the first rider since the legendary Eddy Merckx in 1970 to win a Mont Ventoux stage while also wearing the race leader’s yellow jersey.
‘‘It was incredible today, incredible. This is the biggest victory of my career,’’ Froome said. ‘‘I didn’t imagine this, this climb is so historical. It means so much to this race, especially being the 100th edition. I really can’t believe this.’’
‘‘It’s over,’’ predicted Greg LeMond, the only US winner of cycling’s greatest race after Floyd Landis and Lance Armstrong were stripped of their titles for doping.
In a sport where so many exploits of recent decades later proved to have been drug-assisted, Froome has been asked during this year’s race if he’s riding clean. Not only does he insist he is, he also says his success proves that cycling’s sustained anti-doping efforts are working and leveling the playing field. If so, then the extravagant superiority, grit, strength, and speed Froome demonstrated on Ventoux, one of the most respected and storied ascents in cycling, deserve a special place in the sport’s collective memory. Because this was, as Froome said, ‘‘an epic ride.’’
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