Chris Froome dedicated his victory in the 100th Tour de France to his late mother as he celebrated under an Arc de Triomphe bathed in yellow.
Froome completed Sunday’s largely processional stage into Paris to be confirmed as the second British winner of the Tour in as many years after helping his team-mate Sir Bradley Wiggins become the first in history 12 months ago.
After watching a spectacular light show projected on to the Arc de Triomphe in his honour, Froome stood before it to deliver a victory speech in memory of his mother Jane, who died of cancer five years ago, just weeks before he made his Tour debut in 2008.
“I’d like to dedicate this win to my late mother,” Froome said. “Without her encouragement to follow my dreams, I’d probably be at home watching this event on TV. It’s a great shame she never got to come see the Tour, but I’m sure she’d be extremely proud if she were here tonight.”
Froome’s win completes a remarkable journey from the mountains of Kenya to the top step of the podium on the Champs-Elysees, and Froome thanked all those who had helped him along the way.
“This amazing journey would not have been possible without the support I’ve received on and off the bike,” he said.
“I’d like to thank my team-mates, who have buried themselves day in day out throughout this Tour to keep this yellow jersey on my shoulders, and the Team Sky management for believing in my ability and building this team around me.
“Thank you to all the people who have taken their time to teach and mentor me over the years to get me into this privileged position.
“Finally, I’d like to thank my close friends and family for being there for me every step of the way, especially to my fiancee Michelle who’s here tonight.
“This is a beautiful country, with the finest annual sporting event on the planet. To win the 100th edition is an honour beyond any I’ve dreamed. This is one yellow jersey which will stand the test of time. Thank you.”
Froome’s final comment was a reference to the constant speculation about doping he has faced over the past few weeks, which sharpened after he took the yellow jersey with victory on stage eight to Ax 3 Domaines, and then again after his epic ride to win on Mont Ventoux.
“In a way I’m glad that I’ve had to face those questions, that after all the revelations last year and just the tarnished history over the last decade, all that’s been channelled towards me now,” he said on ITV4.
“I feel I’ve been able to deal with it reasonably well throughout this Tour, and hopefully that’s sent a strong message to the cycling world that the sport has changed - and it really has.
“The peloton’s standing together, the riders are united and it’s not going to be accepted any more.”
Froome’s final margin of victory over second-placed Nairo Quintana is four minutes and 20 seconds, the Colombian allowed to take a chunk out of a lead that had been more than five minutes overnight as Froome got into position to cross the line arm-in-arm with his Sky team-mates.
“It brought tears to my eyes coming over the line with the guys like that,” Froome added. “I expected it to be big, but this is something else.
“I’m speechless. This really was an amazing way to finish off a fitting 100th edition of the Tour de France.”