Froome has written himself into the history books by winning a fourth Tour de France
In 2012 Bradley Wiggins became Britain’s first Tour de France winner, few in the world of cycling would have thought that Team Sky would go on to win a total of five Tours de France in six years. Chris Froome has earned the right to be mentioned in in the same context as Tour de France legends; Jacques Anquetil, Eddie Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, each with five wins to their name. Froome, with four Tour de France wins to his name has achieved something extraordinary in modern cycling. Yet, it’s plausible to suggest that those who don’t follow cycling may underestimate or even dismiss his remarkable success. In Britain, cycling headlines will always be smothered by those of football, rugby, cricket and motorsport.
Such are the intangibles, cycling is arguably the most unpredicatable sport, always expect the unexpected. Physical and mental endurance is required from the first gun, at kilometre zero, right the way through to the final stage, some 3,500Km and 83 plus hours or riding later. Flick through the images of this tour, or any cycling race for that matter, a trend emerges, that of the pain and suffering, caused by pushing the body deep into an unnatural state of exhaustion. Slumped on the floor with a towel draped over his head, Romain Bardet’s body language amplified that uneasy feeling after completing his Individual Time Trial on stage 20.
Since their inceptions, Team Sky have had their work cut out to be respected in the peloton. Froome’s humility, ability on the bike and the desire to win has earned him a sturdy reputation among his peers. His teammates are prepared to run themselves deep into the ‘red’ for their leader. Michal Kwiatkowski’s efforts on the Col d’Izoard (stage 18) sum up what it means to ride for a champion like Froome. Leadership is most effective when a high-degree of mutual trust exists among the team. Froome’s personal qualities seem to bring the best out his teammates.
Arguments have been put forward to suggest that Team Sky were not been challenged at this year’s tour. The General Classification standings say otherwise, Froome finished 54 seconds ahead of Rigoberto Uran. The course for the 104th edition of the Tour de France was supposedly designed with the aim preventing Team Sky from dominating. Sir Dave Brailsford assembled a team around Froome that was very capable at one-day racing. Dan Martin, fearless in the saddle, attacked Team Sky – Fabio Aru and Bardet had opportunities to attack, and did so, Froome equal with the counterattack. Team Sky, widely regarded as the strongest team on this year’s tour lost the yellow jersey for the first time in their brief history when Fabio Aru took control of it on stages 12 and 13. Froome and his teammates had no choice but to adopt their tactics and go on the attack in an attempt to win it back, without the stalwart figure of Geraint Thomas.
There were some stellar performances by various riders at this year’s tour, it ended with Froome standing on top of the podium. Britain should be very proud of their champion, after all, he’s spent 59 days wearing the Maillot Jaune, picking up four Tour de France victories along the way. Froome’s next target may well be the red jersey at this year’s Vuelta a España, now that would be an unbelievable achievement.
Thank you to @hotgomez for his featured image contribution – Gomez Fotografie email: firstname.lastname@example.org