It was a novelty in 2005, when Lance Armstrong took the microphone on the Champs-Élysées after winning the Tour de France, telling the multitudes that he was sorry they couldn't dream big, but in recent years, the victory speech has simply become a part of protocol on the final stage of the race.
Chris Froome (Sky) made his third such speech on Sunday after landing his third Tour de France win in four years. The Briton crossed the line at the rear of the peloton at the end of stage 21, flanked by his Sky teammates, and it marked a rare occasion when the men in black weren't massed on the front on this Tour. It was hardly surprising that Froome's first thought on clearing his throat was for his comrades.
"To my teammates and support team, this is your yellow jersey too. I wouldn't be standing here if it wasn't for your commitment and sacrifice. A massive thank you to Dave Brailsford and my coach Tim Kerrison. This is one special team and I'm so proud to be a part of it," said Froome, who went on to dedicate his win to his infant son Kellan.
Froome also remembered the victims of the terrorist atrocity in Nice on July 14, where 84 people were killed during Bastille Day celebrations. Although the publicity caravan was muted during the days of mourning that followed the tragedy, Froome paid tribute to the Tour for offering reassurance in a time of crisis.
"This Tour has obviously taken place against the backdrop of terrible events in Nice and we pay our respects once again to those who lost their lives in this terrible events. Of course this kind of event puts sport in perspective but it also shows why the values of sport are so important to a free society," Froome said.
"We all love the Tour de France because it's unpredictable but we love the Tour more for what stays the same. The passion of the fans from every nation along the roadside, the beauty of the French countryside and the bonds of friendship, this things will never change."
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As in 2013 and 2015, Froome concluded his speech with a few words in French. Indeed, while Froome was interviewed in French as far back as the 2012 Tour, on this year's race he has appeared particularly eager to express himself in the language of his hosts.
On Saturday afternoon, Froome even appeared on France Télévisions' Vélo Club post-race show – whose line of questioning had so vexed Team Sky in 2015 – to make a gift of a yellow jersey to presenter Gerard Holtz to mark his retirement.
"Thanks again for your kindness during this difficult period in France. You have the most beautiful race in the world and it's a great honour to wear this maillot jaune," Froome said on Sunday. "Vive le Tour and vive la France."
Speaking to the television cameras by the podium area later, meanwhile, Froome offered a further explanation as to why he dropped to the rear of the peloton at the finish to coast home with his teammates.
"My teammates have emptied themselves every day, so it was important to show on the finishing line this is a team sport, this is what it's all about, what we've worked for," Froome said. "It's amazing, amazing. It doesn't wear off after two times. Rolling on the Champs-Elysées is the same, it's an amazing feeling."
Stage 21 Video Highlights
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