Chris Froome delight as Cobo ban gives him 2011 Vuelta a Espana title

The 2011 Vuelta podium with Chris Froome, right, the now-disqualified Juan Jose Cobo, centre, and Bradley Wiggins. Picture: Arturo Rodriguez/AP
The 2011 Vuelta podium with Chris Froome, right, the now-disqualified Juan Jose Cobo, centre, and Bradley Wiggins. Picture: Arturo Rodriguez/AP
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Chris Froome has welcomed the decision to officially declare him the winner of the 2011 Vuelta a Espana following a doping case involving Juan Jose Cobo.

It is Froome’s seventh title from one of cycling’s three-week races, and retrospectively makes him Britain’s first Grand Tour winner, beating Sir Bradley Wiggins’ Tour de France victory by 10 months.

“Better late than never!” Froome wrote on Twitter. “The 2011 @lavuelta holds some very special memories for me.”

On the Team Ineos website, Froome added: “The Vuelta in 2011 was in many ways my breakthrough race, so this red jersey is special for me.

“I guess it’s extra special, too, because – even though it’s eight years on – it was Britain’s first Grand Tour win. The Vuelta is a race I love and I have always felt a great connection with it and the Spanish fans.”

World governing body the UCI announced last month that the now-retired Cobo had been found “guilty of an anti-doping violation (Use of a prohibited substance) based on abnormalities from 2009 and 2011 detected in his Biological Passport” and ruled him ineligible for a period of three years.

The Spaniard had 30 days to appeal but has not done so, with the UCI updating the results on its official website yesterday. A UCI statement said: “The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirms that no statement of appeal has been submitted to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the decision of the UCI Anti-doping Tribunal concerning Juan Jose Cobo Acebo.

“As the deadline for appeal has expired, the three-year suspension against Juan Jose Cobo Acebo is hence confirmed.”

Cobo has been stripped of his results for the period between 2009 and 2011, which included 10th place in the 2009 Vuelta as well as his victory in 2011.

Cobo, riding for Geox-TMC, finished 13 seconds ahead of Froome, with Froome’s fellow Team Sky rider Sir Bradley Wiggins third, one minute and 39 seconds down. The British pair are now listed as first and second.

Froome adds the title to his Tour de France wins in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, his Vuelta win in 2017, and the 2018 Giro d’Italia crown.

News of Cobo’s doping violation last month came a day after Froome was involved in a horror crash during a reconnaissance ride at the Criterium du Dauphine.

The 34-year-old suffered a broken femur and broken ribs amongst a long list of injuries, ending his hopes of a record-equalling fifth Tour crown this July.

Froome spent three weeks in hospital before being released and has this week been riding on an indoor training bike using one leg.