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Another victory for Britain in the Tour de France

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Another victory for Britain in the Tour de France

Post  Panda on Mon 22 Jul - 7:15

Chris Froome pays tribute to mother after winning 100th edition of the Tour de France in Paris
As the star who has illuminated cycling stood sparkling in yellow in front of the Arc de Triomphe on a unique Parisian night, Chris Froome's thoughts turned to the woman who set him on the incredible road from the hills of Kenya all the way here to the Champs Elysées, where he was crowned the second successive British winner of the Tour de France.


Image 1 of 2
Great Briton: Chris Froome celebrates winning the 100th edition of the Tour de France after the Team Sky rider became the second successive British rider to triumph in the world's biggest bike race Photo: AP
Image 1 of 2Epic victory: Chris Froome has won the Tour de France while Marcel Kittel takes the final stage Photo: GETTY IMAGES

By Ian Chadband, in Paris
8:55PM BST 21 Jul 2013
28 Comments
"Oh, I'd give anything just to see her smile with me coming into Paris," Froome had pondered, with a wistful, faraway smile, as he considered how proud his late mother would have been if she could have witnessed her shy boy turned into what French sports paper L'Equipe christened Le Roi Soleil, the Sun King, as he pedalled from the Palace of Versailles in this historic 100th Tour.

Jane Froome had been Chris's number one fan, the doting, devoted mum who put him on the path to a cycling career in Kenya, who would travel untold miles in a car just to support the stubborn lad who would not give up on those long, hard dusty rides with hardened Kikuyu riders.

She was the one who would fight tooth and nail with the Kenyan cycling authorities when they failed to give Chris the proper support; who backed him when he turned to British cycling; and who, when economics student Chris told her he did not want to make a career in business, told him: "Go and ride your bike. Follow your dreams."

And he did, all the way to this swaggering, staggering victory, one which all of cycling hopes will help mark him out as a fitting new champion, clean, inspiring and breaking new international barriers, for cycling's post-Armstrong age.

And though Jane died in 2008, just days before Froome made his debut in the event, he swore she was here with him, guiding him through every crisis and drama, every weird crosswind or lunatic fan, and over every one of those 23 days, 65 climbs and 2,115 miles.

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As he outlined how he had prevailed by more than five minutes in what he felt was a fittingly marvellous, exhilarating Tour, Froome explained how the memory of Jane came to his rescue, particularly on the second weekend of racing.

Sir Dave Brailsford, his principal at Team Sky, concurred that the two days in the Pyrenees defined the Tour for Froome.

On the Saturday, the target was for Froome to attack on the final climb to the ski resort of Ax 3 Domaines to put the first dent in his rivals' confidence. But how to do that? Froome, Brailsford reckoned, was "like a year's worth of coiled spring, just waiting and waiting to burst until he couldn't keep it any longer". But Brailsford and Tim Kerrison, Froome's personal coach, preached caution with the help of a bawdy little Australian story of Kerrison's which the pair relayed to Froome on the morning of the stage.

Brailsford laughed: "Tim told him: 'There's two bulls, one old bull and one young really young bull on top of a hill, looking down on a paddock of cows. And the young bull turns to the old bull and says, 'let's run down and ---- a cow!' And the old bull says, 'tell you what son, let's walk down and ---- 'em all'. Basically that was our motto for the day!"

Though Froome and his sidekick Richie Porte, who had a monumental Tour too, wanted to run down like young bulls, Brailsford demanded them to walk, be patient, gradually wear down their opponents until they had the perfect base to take the biggest chunk of time out of their rivals as possible. It worked. Froome destroyed them all.

Sky had looked so dominant that what happened the next day seemed inconceivable. "It was quite a strange day," Froome recalled. "To go out again after such a dominant performance and to find myself absolutely isolated within the first 30km, against other teams with up to seven riders, that felt quite a difficult thing mentally to come to grips with."

That was a perilous time. For Brailsford, when Froome's brilliant young Isle of Man team-mate, Pete Kennaugh, fell down a ditch at roadside, it was the moment which totally reshaped the Tour's dynamic. "The night before it was 'Sky have won, this race is over'. The next day, the other teams are thinking 'they have a weak team, let's attack them!' "

And they did. Froome was on his own, the sharks circling. "I did start thinking about a few things. It would have been easy to just sit in the bunch and not follow the attacks of guys like [Nairo] Quintana. But I thought, 'I've worked b----- hard to get here, I'm not going to let this race ride away from me just because I'm on my own. I can do just as well as the rest of the guys in this front bunch'."

This, he knew, was what his mum would have told him. He could not help thinking of her. "She's been a really big motivation for me and I'd like to think she was there alongside me every step of the way.

"I often think of my mum, because she always encouraged me to do what made me happy. When I was in my late teens, early twenties, I was studying economics at university [in South Africa] and cycling was my hobby.

"I really enjoyed it but I was training for the corporate world. I remember at the time saying to her, 'I just want to ride my bike, I can't really be bothered studying'. When I decided to stop my studies and spend six months cycling in Europe, she was behind me 100 per cent, saying, 'Do what makes you happy, there's nothing worse than being in a job that you're miserable in and you'll be forever asking yourself 'what if?' "

There were no 'what ifs' that Sunday. Every attack was covered, each attacker's heart cracked just that bit more. Froome seemed to be in control, even when his team were suffering.

And how brilliant those team-mates were. Geraint Thomas, battling on with a cracked hip; Richie Porte, a firefighter in the Red Adair class; and Kennaugh, a lad who might just go and win this race himself one day. Yet the ultimate key to victory? "Chris's mental resilience," Brailsford said. "He's got this fantastic, polite sheen but underneath there's a fighter."

Brailsford thought back three weeks to the start of this adventure in Corsica. Froome was warming up in Porto-Vecchio when he hit a concrete bollard and fell off his bike. A red hot Tour favourite takes a tumble before the race even starts! You could not have made it up.

They can laugh about it now. "But every night I'd be going to bed thinking: 'OK, I've got this five-minute advantage but at any second something's going to challenge that.' I've been so fortunate. Not to have a mechanical at the wrong time, a crash, anything going wrong."

The big scab on Froome's right knee, the result of that fall, was his only scar of the Tour; the rest belonged to his rivals.

The Sun King, shining bright for Sky, may reign for years.

Panda
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Re: Another victory for Britain in the Tour de France

Post  wjk on Mon 22 Jul - 8:18

Well done Chris  

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Re: Another victory for Britain in the Tour de France

Post  Panda on Mon 22 Jul - 8:35


Brailsford laughed: "Tim told him: 'There's two bulls, one old bull and one young really young bull on top of a hill, looking down on a paddock of cows. And the young bull turns to the old bull and says, 'let's run down and ---- a cow!' And the old bull says, 'tell you what son, let's walk down and ---- 'em all'. Basically that was our motto for the day!"

That quote is from Froome's Coach who was trying to slow him down a bit . Froome's Mother was his inspiration but sadly died before she could witness his success. Britain is becoming very successful in many areas of Sport , winning the first 2 matches in the cricket Ashes match against Australia.

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Re: Another victory for Britain in the Tour de France

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