As I was driving down the road from work, yesterday, listening to a podcast about the Giro d’Italia, the focus of the discussion was Chris Froome’s commitment to racing the brutal Grand Tour. Many topics were brought up during the discussion, mainly about the ability of Froome verses the competition and whether or not his participation is only being used as an excuse for why he will lose the Tour de France. I am indifferent either way. The former pros and cycling enthusiasts in the podcast asked each other what emoji would be used to show interest in Froome and the Giro. Funny as it was the main emoji was just a pleasant smile or a curious one. In other words, it is nice but no big deal.
Why? Why is Chris Froome so . . . well, liked . . . no, sort of ignored . . . eh, hated . . . I have actually thought of a way to explain the typical reaction to Froome, but it alludes me. He is loathed by many. He is loved by some. He seems nice. He is friendly and humble. He is well spoken and articulate. So what is the problem? Oh, there is one. I just cannot nail it down, so I thought I would write something and hope for a response from my fellow riders of the world. I really would like to be a Froome fan, but I actually find myself rooting against him. Is it Team Sky? Does it bother people that the cycling machine, known as Team Sky, shows up and uses “marginal gains” to win time after time? Is there something that is just suspicious about the pseudo Brit? There is no way around the fact that doping scandals have placed deep scars in all of us, and when we see someone with 7″ thighs blasting up a mountain, it causes an eyebrow to pop up. I have no reason not to like him. He is not an arrogant jerk, like Cav. He is not a complete dick, like Bouhanni. He is not even a distant figure, like Quintana. Maybe it does not bug others like it does me. I just hate when I cannot put my finger on something.
As the season begins to unfold with the Tour Down Under, everything appears to be the same. We will have the same big players, even though some of the Grand Tours have really gone out of their way to make things more difficult. I mean for goodness sake the last stage of the Giro is just mind-blowing! Yes, Froome will be there this year. If he does accomplish a victory, it will place Froome in the thin-aired company of Hinault and Merckx. A Giro win would also put Froome in the elite group to have won all three Grand Tours: Spain, Italy, France. This brings up the fact that we are witnessing history, with even maybe a fifth straight Tour de France victory thrown in, and there is more reaction to Peter Sagan doing a wheelie than Froome’s business of riding. It is just weird. Please give me your thoughts and ideas, and be comforted in the fact that I will sleep better.