Froome’s bravado ensures Giro win is best yet

Thibaut Pinot suffered during stage 20 of the 2018 Giro d'Italia

Froome said: "I don't think it has quite sunk in yet, but I'm sure it will over the next few days once I've had a bit of time to reflect".

"I know I have done nothing wrong and soon that will be clear to everyone", said Froome, who held a spirited series of attacks from defending champion Dumoulin on stage 20 from Susa, to stretch his lead to 46 seconds.

Miguel Angel Lopez, from Colombia, finished third overall. "I hope it will over the next three days", added Froome, who was competing in the Italian race for the first time in eight years.

"I am being tested absolutely every day - before the race and after the race".

Eddy Merckx won four straight between 1972 and 1973 and Bernard Hinault took three in a row in 1982 and 1983.

"I've got to celebrate what an wonderful victory this was but I'm definitely going to keep things tidy tonight thinking about recovering from this", Froome said. I had a couple of crashes earlier on, was in a lot of pain and struggling to feel myself after the crashes.

"Colle delle Finestre was the flawless place to do it. Gravel roads remind me of Africa", added Froome, who races for Britain with Team Sky but was born and raised in Kenya.

He will now target a fifth Tour de France victory later this year - as well as clearing his name of anti-doping accusations.

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Froome successfully defended the lead he built up in the Alps - courtesy of his stunning 80km solo attack on stage 19 - to win the Giro for the first time and become only the seventh rider to triumph in all three Grand Tours in a career. "But Mikel's win was a really good sign of the character and atmosphere in this team, showing how we can bounce back so quickly and put things behind us and just go after it, so yesterday's win was just as pleasing as any of the other ones [earlier in the race]".

"I have a clear conscience", he said.

Bora rider Bennett sprinted to victory in the 21st and final stage, his third of this year's race, after pipping four-stage victor Elia Viviani (Quick Step) at the line.

However, Froome's victory is not without controversy as he remains the subject of an investigation by cycling's world governing body, the UCI, after a urine sample taken from him at last year's Vuelta turned up excessive levels of the asthma medication salbutamol.

But that is because Bennett is a super ambitious rider and once he reached sixth-place on the general classification standings, the 28-year-old quickly raised the bar and set his sights on a top-five finish.

With riders concerned about treacherous road conditions due to the uneven cobblestones, the stage was neutralised after three laps, meaning the final overall times were recorded after a third of the way through the stage.

Froome finished more than 15 minutes behind Bennett, crossing the line arm in arm with six teammates.

The Tour runs July 7-29 and Froome plans to inspect some of the course before it starts.

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