Chris Froome (Sky) completed the Vuelta a España in second place overall behind Nairo Quintana on Sunday evening in Madrid, but as he looked the 2016 season, the Briton described it as his "most successful to date."
After winning the Tour de France by a large margin, and coming 1:28 short of taking the victory in the Vuelta, Froome said that it is "definitely possible to win the Tour and the Vuelta."
Much of that Froome's time gap to Quintana came on a short, intense stage 15 to Aramon-Formigal, where the Briton conceded 2:43 to the Colombian when the race slipped out of Team Sky's control.
Although Froome rallied and pulled back 2:16 in the stage 19 time trial, Quintana held on to take the overall victory. "As it stands I came second," Froome reflected, "and I won the Tour, and I have to come back in the future to try. Maybe that'll be my objective for next year."
Over the course of his career, Froome has finished on the podium of the Vuelta three times, and won the Tour de France three times, but this is the first time in his career that he has done both in the same year.
In addition to his Grand Tour overall results, Froome also has two stage wins in each event and has shone on many other fronts this season.
He claimed the bronze medal in Rio's time trial, won the Criterium du Dauphine for a third time, claimed a spectacular solo win in a stage of the Tour de Romandie and even won the Herald Sun Tour back in January in Australia.
"It's been my most successful season to date, I can be happy with how things have gone," Froome said. "Of course I'd have wanted more out of this Vuelta, but at the same time, it's been a great race and as a team we've fought hard."
Stage 15 and Aramon-Formigal marked a definitive low point for the team in the race, and Froome recognised "we learned a lesson. We were not prepared at the beginning of the stage and inevitably that cost us the race. But we can be happy with what we have achieved - second overall, winning the team time trial, Peña Cabarga and then also the time trial."
Sky also led the Vuelta for two days with Pete Kennaugh and Michal Kwiatkowski - the latter becoming the first Polish rider ever to lead Spain's Grand Tour.
"I'm going into the off-season looking forward to spending time with my family, "Froome added, "and happy with how things have gone."
Arguably the hardest part of the season for Froome is that he has spent a great deal of time living out of a suitcase and away from his family. As he told Eurosport, "it's been tough. It's been tough, I won't lie, especially on the back of the Tour de France and then going to Rio for the road race and time trial. Coming here, it means I haven't had much time at home for the last three months."
Although the Vuelta marks the end of the official racing season for Froome, Froome told Spanish newspaper MARCA he may race the Saitama criterium and, possibly, the Etape London by Le Tour de France, before the end of the year. One official end of season race that's locked in for Froome is L'Étape Australia in early-December.
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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