The 2016 Tour de France ended similarly to the last four Tours: the eventual champion grabbed the yellow jersey early and smashed the field for the rest of the race, with the help of their dominant team. The yellow jersey hasn’t changed hands in the last week of the race since 2011, and—save Vincenzo Nibali’s odd, crash-marred win in 2014—Team Sky has been fully responsible for the staid proceedings over the past half decade. Chris Froome, the 2016 Tour champion, is a worthy and strong bike rider, and he may very well have won even if he was on a weaker team. But he wouldn’t have been able to strangle the fun out of the yellow jersey race like he did this year if not for his strong team.
Froome has now won three Tours, one of only eight riders to ever do so. In contrast to his 2013 and 2015 wins, where he dominated other general classification (GC) contenders in the time trials, rode everyone off his wheel in the early mountains, then held on as his team ferried him through the tough third week, Froome took some chances this year. He punched a dude out during a climb and earned the yellow jersey by escaping on a descent with a surprise attack. Throw in his escape with Peter Sagan into the crosswinds that got him 12 more seconds, and you have a different-looking Froome win. He was active in places nobody expected him to be. He also ran up a hill in cleats, which is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in the Tour de France.