Chris Froome deserves greater credit
This week saw Chris Froome seal his third Tour de France title in style. With his arms around the Team Sky squad down the Champs-Elysees, there was little doubting that the Brit deserved the victory. In fact, the confirmation of the hat trick went a long way in asserting his dominance of cycling’s toughest competition. Despite this however, Froome receives minimalistic plaudits.
Unless you go out of your way to follow sport or the TV news, it would have been easy to miss the fact Froome had won. You’d be more likely to come across the endless transfer reports surrounding Paul Pogba or Riyad Mahrez. It really is a shame.
In fact, the 31-year-old’s most publicised moment didn’t prove his victory, but his stage 12 incident when he was forced to continue the race on foot. The occurrence was admittedly hilarious and of course controversial; an ultimately insignificant detail however. In a way, it appears we are taking Froome for granted.
The Tour de France was inaugurated in 1903. In that time, the UK has had five different monarchs and fought in two separate World Wars; the computer, television and airplane was invented; the global population has nearly sextupled and (believe it or not) England won a World Cup. In summary, it’s been a long, long time.
However, between 1903 and 2012, more human beings had set foot on the moon (12) than Brits had won the Tour de France. Despite that, when one Brit bags three in four years, it barely takes up two minutes on a news bulletin.
Sir Bradley Wiggins was drowning in publicity when he became the first British cyclist to win the Tour in 2012. In fact, he even bagged himself a knighthood. While Wiggins’ achievements should never be diminished, the black and white of it is that Froome has improved upon this by three-fold. Sure, the former was the first, but you don’t need a mathematician to see its 3-1 to the latter.
Froome’s tough luck is exemplified by his results in the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award. The 31-year-old losing out to Andy Murray in 2013 was highly understandable though. After all, the tennis star had ended Britain’s 77-year wait for a native Wimbledon winner albeit Froome’s Tour win. However, the cyclist missing out to Murray, again, in 2015 was nothing short of a fix.
The Nairobi-born cyclist had become the first ever Britain to win two Tour de France titles and Murray didn’t have a single 2015 Grand Slam to his name. Could you imagine the uproar in 2012 had Wiggins lost out to Murray? The argument that this is a ‘Personality’ award is also nonsense considering Tyson Fury was nominated last year. Besides, Murray is rarely seen bouncing off all four walls.
It’s an unfortunate consequence of cycling’s lack of popularity in terms of spectating. This is understandable, in part, given the recent revelations surrounding Lance Armstrong and seemingly everybody who sat on a bike in the early 2000s. Nonetheless, the Tour de France is one of the most grueling competitions in all of sport and demands the optimum fitness that humanity can muster.
Froome has mastered this THREE times. If the 31-year-old stood on top of the Parisian podium a ninth time, I still wouldn’t be certain he’d receive the same recognition Wiggins did. In addition, given Murray won Wimbledon this year, he can probably kiss his chances of winning the Sport’s Personality of the Year award goodbye again. Even gold in Rio probably wouldn’t sway it.
But there you have it, despite his brilliant achievements; Froome may have to settle for the mediocre credit he currently receives. From me at least though, he gets prominent props. Without him and the starting gun of Wiggins, the Union Jack would be set to remain as an antithesis to the Tour. Well, at least the Alpine stages give him the deserved chance to have his head in the clouds…
YJA Senior Correspondent