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SHOVE STORY; STARTS WITH CYCLING: GREAT BRITONS Superman Froome ready to join party.

Byline: MIKE WALTERS in Annecy Semnoz

FACT: CHAMPIONS don't just rise to the occasion - they reach for the stars.

And as Chris Froome all but clinched one of sport's holy grails, the Yellow Jersey of the Tour de France, with one last effort on the forbidding slopes of Le Semnoz, he joined the pantheon of legends.

Froome, the kid who learned to cycle by tailgating trucks at 40mph along Kenya's potholed highways, is the new leader of cycling's magnificent men on their flying machines.

On the last stage of meaningful racing on the 100th Tour, he had to settle for third place behind little Colombian Nairo Quintana and Joaquim Rodriguez.

On the way, he was hassled by a stupid 'fan', pushing the offender away angrily. But no matter. He has a 5mins 3secs lead ahead of this evening's stroll into Paris and, unless he is disqualified for hitching a lift on the Metro, Froome has the title in the bag.

For once there will be no convicted dope cheats on the podium and after welling up at the post-stage formalities, he admitted: "On the final climb, with around a mile to go, I was almost overcome by It's a to join the of Andy and the this over-whelming feeling.

"I found myself thinking, 'This is it, I've actually done it', knowing I would be going to Paris in yellow and nobody is going to take it away from me.

"I would have loved to win the stage, but I didn't have the legs because it was such an emotional feeling - the great realisation of what I've achieved made it difficult to concentrate on racing."

feeling likes Murray Lions " When sporting connoisseurs look back on the summer of 2013, they will recall Leigh Halfpenny's golden boot, Andy Murray booking his statue at Wimbledon, Jimmy Anderson turning the Baggy Green into a dunce's hat and Justin Rose's triumph in the US Open. And Froome, 28, wa relieved to join the party. he added: "Since the Olympics last year, I would like to think it's been a great time for British sport, and it's a special feeling to join the likes of Andy Murray and the Lions.

"I've taken a lot of motivation from messages of support from fans saying they have been following the Tour de France, that's a really cool feeling."

To cycle 2,115 miles in three weeks over 65 mountains, with every lung-bursting climb greeted by cynical sneers from the anti-doping lobby, is almost superhuman.

One man's Clark Kent is another man's Bruce Wayne, but Froome's performance has left even Sir Bradley Wiggins in the shade.

Twelve months ago, Sir Brad ended Britain's 109-year wait for the Tour win and added Olympic time trial gold for good measure.

But Froome has conquered a course which Sherpas and Gurkhas would have rejected as certain short-cuts to altitude sickness.

Tonight, along with five-times winners Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain, Froome will receive a Tunique D'Or - golden cape - to commemorate the 100th Tour de France.

Encrusted with sequins, Froome's cloak will shimmer under the Champs Elysees searchlights.

The pearly king of Paris.

VA-VA FROOME: WHERE HE WON LE TOUR SATURDAY, JULY 6 ON the first mountainous stage, Froome seizes control of the Yellow Jersey with a breakaway to the summit finish at Ax 3 Domaines. He never looked like relinquishing it.

SUNDAY JULY 14 ON Mount Ventoux, where British cyclist Tommy Simpson died a mile from the top in 1967, Froome produces a storming of the Bastille Day with another supreme climb to claim his second stage win.

MONDAY JULY 15 WITH paroled drug cheat Alberto Contador resorting to dangerous attacks downhill, Froome admonishes his Spanish rival for "reckless" riding. The message is clear: Don't mess with me.

THURSDAY JULY 18 EVEN on his worst day, as he suffers 'Le Bonk' (hitting the wall) on the second ascent of Alpe d'Huez, Froome still extends his lead over Contador despite a 20-sec time penalty for illegal snacking.

It's a special feeling to join the likes of Andy Murray and the Lions

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OUT OF MY WAY: Chris Froome pushes a 'fan' out of his path
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 21, 2013
Words:695
Previous Article:We will always Cav Paris.
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