Why it’s time we started to warm to the running man in the yellow jersey

By July 16, 2016 Cycling

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(This article first appeared on the stickybottle.com website here and is being published here with the kind permission of the author)

I’m not a Chris Froome fan; or at least I wasn’t. I’m not too sure why, but I just never took to him.

But his actions this week in racing aggressively and attacking when tradition suggested he probably shouldn’t – like on a descent or on a flat stage meant for the sprinters – and taking time from his main rivals in both instances, is starting to win me over.

Aisling called me when I was in work excitedly asking if I’d seen the Tour.

‘Of course not!’ I answered. I work much too hard to be watching cycling when I should be working. ‘What happened?’ I asked.

Froome had to run the last part of the climb without his bike, Ais went on. There was a crash or something and he had no bike and he was running up the mountain.

When I got a chance to check it out, sure enough there had been a crash with motorbikes caused by crazy spectators on the Mont Ventoux stage.

Froome was faced with a situation of having no bike, in the world’s biggest bike race.

Those he had crashed with, Richie Porte and Bauke Mollema, quickly remounted and pushed through the scrum of fans to race to the stage end less than 1 kilometre away.

But Froome’s bike was broken and impossible to ride. His Tour rested on what he did next.

The normal reaction would be to wait for a replacement but the clock was ticking and Froome’s team car was at least minutes behind him down the mountain.

I’ve seen lots of idiotic reactions to bikes letting riders down.

Tour winner in 2012, Bradley Wiggins is fairly well known for it; he fired his against a wall when it let him down a couple of years ago in the Giro del Trentino.

And on another occasion at the World Championships he flung his TT bike to the ground in disgust when he had a mechanical issue slowing, but not stopping, him.

Then he walked around looking like a spoilt kid throwing his toys out of the pram.

Chris Horner bounced his bike off the ground at the Phily Classic in the US recently and kicked it after dropping a chain.

In the Ironman World Championships Norman Stadler fired his bike into the lava fields when a mechanical put an end to his day.

Froome could have panicked and, in fairness, he probably couldn’t have been faulted for throwing a wobbly as none of the chaos was his fault.

Instead, he picked himself up and started running; yes running. At first he had his bike but then discarded the broken machine.

He stunned fans, TV commentators and the worldwide audience, with the cycling media and social media full of news stories, video and photos of the incident.

I had never seen anything like it and neither by the sounds of it had the rest of the world’s cycling fans.

I think it really highlighted his champion qualities.

He showed the desire to keep fighting and to keep moving towards the finish, either on his feet or on an ill-fitting neutral service replacement bike with pedals that wouldn’t work with his shoes.

All the while he was talking to his team on his radio, trying to get them up to him with a bike he could ride.

He kept on fighting to stay in the race; he knew he might be losing the Tour right there and then. And not because of any failing of his.

But he got right back up and did what no one expected; he did the only thing in his power. He kept on moving towards the finish line.

And at the end of the day he deservedly held on to his yellow jersey.

Our sport gets enough bad press and Froome’s actions on Thursday highlighted his champion qualities, his self control under massive pressure, his drive and fight.

And it painted a great picture of what the Tour should be; overcoming difficulties and pushing our personal limits.

I for one will try to learn from it and not have a strop the next time I puncture in the rain or if I’m afflicted with some other similar catastrophe.

You’ve gained yourself a bunch of new fans today Chris; keep on fighting.

  • The author, Rob Cummins, is a triathlete specialising in Ironman. He also owns WheelWorx.ie, one of the sponsors of the ASEA-Wheelworx Irish cycling team.

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