(Reuters) – Chris Froome wrote his name into the history books as he became the first Briton to win the Giro d’Italia title after coming through unscathed in Sunday’s final processional stage in Rome.
Riding in the gruelling race for the first time since 2010, Froome added the one Grand Tour missing from his collection.
The 33-year-old joined an exclusive club that includes cycling greats Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault as one of only three riders to capture all three Grands Tours in succession.
“For any cyclist this is the dream to have all three leaders’ jerseys in the 10 months,” Froome, who finished 46 seconds ahead of last year’s winner Tom Dumoulin in the overall standings, told Eurosport.
“Pinching myself! There were times over the last three weeks when I thought this wouldn’t be possible. This is a dream come true,” Froome later said on his Twitter account.
Froome, who crossed the finish line with his hands on the shoulders of Sky team mates, won the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana last year and his success at the Giro was built on a remarkable performance in Friday’s 19th stage which put him in full control to win the Maglia Rosa.
Froome turned the race on its head in that stage and saw off several late attacks by Dumoulin to come into contention after being off the pace in the opening week. He had even crashed ahead of the first stage in Israel.
The Team Sky rider is still under investigation over an adverse doping test result following a urine sample at last year’s Vuelta which showed excessive use of an asthma inhaler.
The four-times Tour de France winner has denied any wrongdoing and has said he is confident the probe will clear him.
Sunday’s 21st stage was largely a formality and Froome’s task became all the simpler when it was decided to neutralise the stage after three laps because of dangerous spots on the cobble-stoned streets of Rome.
Riders needed only to complete the 115km, 10-lap loop of the city centre to maintain their overall places.
Ireland’s Sam Bennett claimed his third stage win ahead of Italy’s Elia Viviani and Jean-Pierre Druker from Luxembourg.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Clare Fallon)