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Posts Tagged ‘Chris Froome’

Yesterday (Sunday 24 June) cyclist Chris Froome won his third Tour de France, and his second in a row (he also won in 2013). He becomes the first cyclist to retain the Tour de France title since Miguel Indurain did so in 1994 and 1995 (Lance Armstrong’s wins have been erased from the record books, as they should, for cheating).

Winning the Tour de France is quite an achievement, one could argue the hardest achievement in sport. 3 weeks of cycling for 5-6 hours each day, with only two rest days over the 21-day race. It is the supreme test of endurance, which is sadly why doping is (was?) so common; if you can gain just a few percent in your recovery or endurance it will add up to a large advantage over 3 weeks.

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Chris Froome is a Kenyan-born cyclist who spent his childhood in both Kenya and South Africa. Whether he is “British” is a matter of debate, but he is a first rate cyclist!

Froome is a quiet character, very determined but not particularly interested in being a friendly, chatty sports star. This is probably the reason that he has not really been taken to the hearts of the British public. He is not as obviously funny or entertaining as Bradley Wiggins, who was the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France, in 2012. Whereas Wiggins has been made a “sir”, Froome has not, and surely this will be rectified in the New Year’s honours list at the end of this year. Not that getting a knighthood should be any validation of anything, but it is patently not fair for Wiggins to have been so honoured and for Froome not to have been.

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Froome won his third Tour de France yesterday (24 June 2016), having also won in 2015 and 2013. He thus becomes the first cyclist to retain the title since Miguel Indurain (as Lance Armstrong’s wins have been erased from the record books).

Froome is now 31 and, according to an interview I heard on the radio with the Sky team manager David Brailsford, there is no reason why he cannot go on for several more years and win a fourth and fifth (and even sixth) title. Brailsford thinks Froome has the ability physically to win 2 or 3 more, it is really a question of whether he can motivate himself to make the sacrifices necessary to do so.

There are four cyclists who have won the Tour de France five times,

  • Jacques Angquetil (1957, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964)
  • Eddy Merckx (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974)
  • Bernard Hinault (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985)
  • Miguel Indurain (1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995)

Of these, only Indurain has won the five titles consecutively. With 3 wins now under his belt, there can surely be no greater motivation for Froome than to join this elite group of 5-time winners, and even to try to surpass them and win a sixth.

 

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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.



Chris Froome won the Tour de France for the second time, having also won in 2013.

Chris Froome won the Tour de France for the second time, having also won in 2013.



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!!!!

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