Chris Froome The Unlikely Hero Who Changed Everything

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Chris Froome The Unlikely Hero Who Changed Everything

July 2012, and Bradley Wiggins emerges over the crest of a hill with one of his domestiques in Peyragudes in the French Pyrenees – a first Tour de France victory for a Briton all but assured.

It was the beginning of his planets aligning so spectacularly he would end the summer dripping in Olympic gold and heading for a knighthood.

Perhaps cruelly, the domestiques, who shelter the lead rider to save his energy as they hike through the mountains, are always ignored – even if they are there physically at the finish, they just peel off the road and head for the ice bath alone.

Except this domestique was getting bored and twitchy as they headed towards the line, gesticulating to a rapidly fading Wiggins to hurry up as the race leader started to melt in yellow.

Christopher Froome was his name – a sort of a wirey, less expressive version of Wiggins, without the sideburns.

A decade and seven Grand Tour career victories (all for Team Sky) later, Froome has his own story to tell – a story that might lack the style of the mod who went up a mountain and came down a knight, but which has the substance of a classic, overcoming-the-odds tale.

He might look and sound a bit like an up-to-date version of snooker’s ‘Mr Interesting’, Steve Davis, but he possesses the flair of football legend Diego Maradona, the ruthlessness of Formula 1 great Michael Schumacher and the tenacity of tennis star Rafael Nadal in that lanky frame.

It’s why his departure from¬†Team Ineos – formerly Team Sky – after they decided not to renew is contract¬†feels like the end of era.

Crash Froome’s unlikely background

Ah yes, that background. On the face of it, a white, privileged, boarding school educated man from Africa could breeze protected into the sanitised, optimised world of elite sport, couldn’t he?

As a form of escapism from a family imploding and parents heading for divorce, Froome would ride for as long as the Kenyan countryside would take him.

He was a young man who was largely alone but who spent much of his time riding with a cycling club formed in the Nairobi slums.

Eventually, after an adolescence spent doing 5am time trials for fun and drafting lorries down motorways to get home more quickly, he began to earn his own form of privilege.

That’s why Brailsford saw the one thing any budding cyclist or endurance athlete needs to get a look-in: a good engine, the heart and lungs.

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Whether born with it, or developed during mile after mile in the Kenyan sun, Froome can put out a massive amount of power through the sheer speed and the high cadence of his pedalling.

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“My technique was terrible,” said Froome during his time on the rise. “I gained the nickname ‘Crash Froome’.”

By his own admission, it’s still not a great technique – arms stuck outwards like a cartoon character, head bobbing around. You can easily spot him nestled in the kaleidoscope of the peloton.

Chris Froome The Unlikely Hero Who Changed Everything

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