(Reuters) - Eight years on, Chris Froome has been crowned winner of the 2011 Vuelta a Espana after Spain’s Juan Jose Cobo was stripped of the title following a doping violation.
The now retired Cobo was found to have “abnormalities” in his biological passport between 2009 and 2011, prompting the International Cycling Union (UCI) to hand him a three-year suspension last month.
The 38-year-old did not appeal the decision before the Court of Arbitration for Sport within the stipulated 30 days, paving allowing the UCI to award Froome his seventh Grand Tour title.
The retrospective update made Froome Britain’s first Grand Tour winner, stripping that honour from Bradley Wiggins, who won the 2012 Tour de France.
“The Vuelta in 2011 was in many ways my breakthrough race, so this red jersey is special for me,” Team Ineos rider Froome said in a statement released by the British outfit.
“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’ve always felt a great connection with it and the Spanish fans.”
Team Ineos welcomed the UCI’s decision saying it “underlines their commitment to clean cycling.”
Cobo’s disqualification moved Wiggins up to second in the 2011 Vuelta while Dutch rider Bauke Mollema completed the revised podium.
In a statement here the UCI added that it had also disqualified Cobo's results at the 2009 Road World Championships as well as the Vuelta that year, where he finished 10th.
Froome is not competing in the ongoing Tour de France as the 34-year-old recovers from a horror crash at the Criterium du Dauphine on June 12 that left him with multiple fractures.
Froome’s Grand Tour trophy cabinet now includes four Tour de France titles (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017), two Vuelta crowns (2011, 2017) and the 2018 Giro d’Italia.
The 2011 Vuelta draws Froome level with the seven Grand Tour titles collected by Spaniards Alberto Contador and Miguel Indurain, and Italy’s Fausto Coppi.
Belgium’s Eddy Merckx leads the table with 11 ahead of Frenchmen Bernard Hinault (10) and Jacques Anquetil (8).
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ian Ransom/Greg Stutchbury