He nearly fluffed his speech, dropping his notes on the podium beneath the Arc de Triomphe and requiring runner-up Rigoberto Uran to rescue them before they blew away, but Chris Froome was otherwise sure-footed, firing out a warning to his rivals yesterday after pulling on his fourth yellow jersey in the space of five years by saying he believed he could keep on competing at this level into his late 30s.

A few spots of rain had greeted the peloton as it arrived into Paris, exhausted from three weeks and 3540km of hard racing. Nothing was going to rain on Froome's parade, though. Not the "noise", as Froome described it, around Team Sky and its principal Sir Dave Brailsford, nor the occasional boos that accompanied him and his teammates as they made their way into the French capital, across the Seine, through the middle of Grand Palais and finally, after galloping up and down the Champs-Elysees seven times, into the arms of his wife Michelle and son Kellan.

Froome is now just one shy of the record of five yellow jerseys set by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain. None of those riders won a grand tour beyond 31 but Froome said he felt he could carry on and on.

"I'd still like to keep racing into my late 30s and keep competing for the yellow jersey," he said after Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) claimed the final sprint from Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal).


"I'd like to be here for the next five years, trying to win it. But it certainly doesn't get any easier. This year was the closest it's ever been for me and it's only going to be harder next year."

Froome's grip was indeed less vice-like this year than it has been in recent seasons, which offers a certain amount of hope to his rivals. For the first time in his run of Tour victories, he surrendered the yellow jersey to a rival in the mountains and he did not claim a single stage win. Heading into the last week less than 30 seconds separated the top four on GC.

Against that, though, his support - led by Mikel Landa and Michal Kwiatkowski, and expertly marshalled by Luke Rowe who wrapped up his position as the race's "lanterne rouge", the last-placed rider on GC - looked about as strong as it ever has.

So now to the Vuelta Espana. Froome's season has been built around a twin assault on the Tour and the Vuelta, and while his participation in the latter is not 100 per cent confirmed, it is hard to see why he would not travel to Spain next month.

Froome has already finished second three times at the Vuelta, in 2011, 2014 and 2016. This time the stars seem aligned to make him the first British winner of the race.

If Froome does it, he would be only the third rider in history to manage the Tour-Vuelta double - after Anquetil in 1963 and Hinault in 1978 - and the first since the race was moved from its old April slot.

If there was one criticism that might be levelled at Froome it was his decision not to comment on the travails Sky have endured over the last year since the Fancy Bears leak. He said they "did not concern" him, which felt a long way from the sort of comments he made last autumn when he took a very strong stance.

"When you have a three-week bike race, especially one that's been this close for the yellow jersey, it's not something that's on your radar," he said. "It's just noise. It's the same as a Frenchman going 'Boo' at the roadside - you hear it, but it doesn't stop you pedalling."