Chris Froome awarded 2011 Vuelta a Espana as Juan Jose Cobo stripped of title


Cobo finished in first place at the 2011 Vuelta, with Bradley Wiggins (left) in third and Chris Froome (right) in second

Chris Froome has officially been named winner of the 2011 Vuelta a Espana after Juan Jose Cobo was stripped of the title over doping irregularities.

It retrospectively makes him Britain’s first Grand Tour winner – Sir Bradley Wiggins had held the honour after his 2012 Tour de France victory.

Froome has now won seven Grand Tours, fourth equal on the all-time list.

He is not riding in the ongoing Tour de France after a serious crash at last month’s Criterium du Dauphine.

“Better late than never!” Froome tweeted. “The 2011 Vuelta holds some very special memories for me.”

He later added, on the Team Ineos website: “The Vuelta in 2011 was in many ways my breakthrough race, so this red jersey is special for me.

“I guess it’s extra special too, because – even though it’s eight years on – it was Britain’s first Grand Tour win.

“The Vuelta is a race I love and I have always felt a great connection with it and the Spanish fans.”

Froome’s haul of Grand Tour wins is now made up of four Tours de France, two Vueltas and a Giro d’Italia.

He is alongside Italy’s Fausto Coppi and Spaniards Alberto Contador and Miguel Indurain as a seven-time Grand Tour winner.

Belgium’s Eddy Merckx leads the way with 11, one ahead of Bernard Hinault, whose fellow Frenchman Jacques Anquetil has eight.

Governing body the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) said abnormalities were found in Spanish rider Cobo’s biological passport from 2009-2011.

They imposed a three-year period of ineligibility on the 38-year-old retired rider and Cobo has not appealed in the 30 days since the decision, meaning Froome has now been awarded the title.

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Fellow Briton Wiggins has been promoted to second in the 2011 Vuelta, with Bauke Mollema of the Netherlands third.

The Vuelta a Espana is one of the three Grand Tours – the three-week stage races considered to be cycling’s crown jewels – along with the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia.

Analysis

BBC chief sports writer Tom Fordyce

Juan Jose Cobo was always a surprise winner of a Grand Tour, an average rider who achieved little of note before the 2011 Vuelta and almost nothing afterwards.

It was one of the reasons why there were whispers at the time and rumours ever since, and the surprise at the UCI’s announcement now has more to do with the time that elapsed between offence and punishment rather than at the crime itself.

Cobo is long gone from the sport, now reportedly making a living as a milkman and surf instructor in northern Spain. For Froome, who continues to aim for another Tour de France win as he recovers from his devastating crash last month, it is both a timely boost and a source of regret, a winning moment he was denied at the time and can never get back.

Yet there will be satisfaction in becoming Britain’s first Grand Tour winner, an honour he inadvertently takes from former Sky team-mate and rival Bradley Wiggins.

Wiggins got the glory of becoming the first British rider to ride down the Champs-Elysees in yellow when he won the Tour in 2012. Froome now owns the history if not the iconic image.



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