Froome’s very humble nature rather effectively deals with some of the unpleasant reception he has received
It is only in overwhelming victory that modesty can really flourish. Chris Froome’s unassuming, yet magnificent win at the Vuelta a España makes him one of sport’s few truly understated legends.
Finishing at the top of the Vuelta yesterday renders the Gran Campeón the first sportsperson in history to win the Tour de France and then go on to victory at Spain’s biggest race. When the Vuelta preceded the Tour and a double was achieved in that order, the Iberian race was a fortnight of suffering, not the current three weeks of mountain based purgatory. Froome is now in an elite group of the greatest ever grand tour cyclists - with Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil and Miguel Indurain, each of whom possesses a style appropriate to his era.
Rather typically, at yesterday’s electric sprint finish on a balmy Madrid evening, Froome took nothing for granted. After a surprise final appearance in the midst of the sprinters, he thanked his team mates. Then came the great comment. When asked whether he felt particularly proud of the now lavish praise from his defeated general classification rivals, he said that he was “honoured” to be approved of by such riders. Chris, you beat them hands down, and when you had a bit of spare time on your hands you also picked up two other jerseys.
Froome’s very humble nature, which has characterised both his early days in Kenya and his current global stardom, is what most effectively deals with some of the unpleasant reception he received during several stages of summer’s Tour de France. Perhaps Froome is a victim of the damaging questions surrounding Sir Bradley Wiggins, and perhaps he is also prone to being disliked for his consistent abilities to outshine the competition. Probably his quiet personality is mistaken for being uninteresting. Yet these conclusions all seem rather unfair: he is his own individual, it is a competition, and he’s very sportsman like.
However Chris Froome is viewed, his athletic abilities, his impeccable pacing and race sense, and his rather gentle personality, ought to be positive attributes. The inspiration for the next generation of young sportspeople is obvious, and deserves full recognition among the wider public. It’s time for the BBC to get into road cycling, and for Froome’s global success to get some decent news coverage too.
Whatever happens in reality, modesty wins. Froome's cycling keeps doing the talking.