Team Sky rider Chris Froome claimed overall victory at the Giro d’Italia in the final stage on Sunday, picking up a third straight Grand Tour victory.
It saw him join Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault in the cycling history books by winning three Grand Tours (Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and Giro) in succession.
Yet Froome’s place in history has an asterisk on it, due to the ongoing salbutamol case against the 33-year-old Kenyan-born rider.
Froome returned a positive test for salbutamol (an asthma medication), which was twice the allowed limit, from his victory at the 2017 Vuelta.
The case hanging over him means Froome is unsure whether he will be able to participate in the Tour de France in July and whether his victories at last year’s Vuelta and this year’s Giro will be stripped of him, much as Alberto Contador lost his 2011 Giro title after testing positive at the 2010 Tour de France.
Froome’s victory at the 2018 Giro was in incredible example of determination and athleticism, with the rider shrugging off the cloud hanging over him to claim and keep the famous ‘maglia rosa’ (pink jersey).
"I think it's part of my character, I've always been good at blocking things out. I stay very focused on what I need to achieve, I know what I want to achieve. Once I set my mind to something, I like to get it done," the Team Sky rider said in the wake of his sixth Grand Tour victory overall.
"Obviously the next challenge for me has to be the Tour de France. Tonight we've got to enjoy this and celebrate what's been an amazing victory and few weeks but I'll be keeping things tidy and thinking about recovery.
"There's one week extra this year between Giro and Tour and that was a big part of me coming here. I really do think it's possible to win the Giro and win a fifth Tour de France title. That's my next objective.
“We've seen riders in past struggle, especially in the third week. That's the challenge for me, get in the right shape for the start of Tour de France and hopefully build into the race and not run out of legs in the third week."
Froome insisted he had every right to participate in the Giro despite the ongoing salbutamol case. However, he admitted that a week ago, as he struggled with injury and had lost time, he did not think he would win.
"I've addressed that already, I had every right to be here, as I've said before I know I've done nothing wrong," he explained.
"A week ago I wouldn't have believed it if you said I'd be here in pink; that was a dream, a hope and something I kept pushing for. But if you realistically asked, I'd have said: listen, I'm three minutes back, it's unlikely. It's been done before – making up that time – but unlikely.
"For that reason, the last 48 hours have been incredible with the finish at Bardonecchia after the Finestre. The race turned around for me and I went from racing for the stage, to moving up one or two places to having the maglia rosa. That's an incredible feeling. It's amazing to race like that. It felt so raw, for me it's what bike racing is about."