Yesterday (Sunday the 26th July), Chris Froome won the Tour de France for the second time, having also won it in 2013. He won by one of the narrowest margins in recent history, with Colombia’s Nairo Quintana only 72 seconds behind him. Had Quintana not had a very poor ride on the second day of the 19-stage tour, when he lost over one and a half minutes to Froome, it may well have been Quintana winning the 2015 tour.
Two things have struck me about this year’s tour. Let me first talk about the good – the penultimate stage up Alpe d’Huez, the most legendary climb in Tour de France history. With Quintana being a climbing specialist, Froome was in real danger of losing his overall lead to the Colombian. In an epic ride up the tortuous hairpins (“switch-backs” for my American reader(s) ) of this fearsome stage, Quintana attacked again and again, and Froome and his Sky teammates did all they could to make sure the gap that the Colombian opened up was not too great. It was mesmerising TV, with the sheer determination of Froome’s face evident as he dug in to make sure he did not lose too much time to the prolific mountain climber. Although Quintana halved Froome’s lead, it was not enough to surpass him in the General Classification, and Froome knew at the top of the mountain that he had won the Tour.
Now let me talk about the bad – the way that certain elements of the French press and public have treated Froome. It is appalling. He has had urine thrown at him, been spat at countless times, and why? Because the French don’t like him? I am a little unsure whether Britain should be claiming that Froome is British, given that he was born in Kenya and grew up in South Africa; but whatever his nationality he deserves some respect from the cycling press and fans. Surely we should be applauding cyclists like Froome and Bradley Wiggins, who ride drug-free and are trying to help cycling regain its reputation as a reformed sport after the debacle of Lance Armstrong and the institutionalised doping of which he was the most prominent example. Why some elements are so anti-Froome is beyond my comprehension, he comes across as humble and hardworking; not the kind of brash over-confidence that Armstrong exhibited.
Now we can move on to the most exciting three months of sport of 2015 – the Rugby World Cup! Wales have their first warm-up match against Ireland on the 8th of August in Cardiff, and I will be blogging about that on the 10th. I can’t wait!!!!