Froome and Team Sky are hoping to defend their 2013 Tour De France title despite champ’s injury worries
The 101st Tour De France begins this weekend in the wrong country. The most famous cycling event in the world that will roll into Paris on the 27th of July begins some 22 days beforehand in the picturesque environs of Leeds.
Saturday the 5th will see the crème de la crème of cycling descend on the Yorkshire city for one of the most grueling races on two wheels that this year takes in not only the UK but also parts of Belgium and Spain.
The 21 stages comprise some 3,664 kilometers (that’s 2277 miles) and wind their way through some of the prettiest parts of France. Four teams make their debut in the 22 team showing and each will be peddling hard to pick up a stage win or two.
With the Lance Armstrong debacle still casting a long shadow over cycling the race organizers hope that 2014 will continue the rehabilitation of the sport’s tarnished reputation. It may well depend on who rides into Paris wearing the yellow jersey.
Room For Froome To Zoom
UK’s Froome Set To Win In French Tour
• Tour De France Starts 5th July
• Froome injured but riding anyway
• Who will win the yellow jersey?
With gambling laws in the UK positively encouraging a flutter quite a few people are taking great interest in the possibility that Chris Froome will be the first “clean” rider to successfully defend his title since Miguel Indurain.
Following in the wake of Wiggins hasn’t always been easy for the 29 year old Froome who still smolders angrily at accusations of doping. Team Sky have formed up an experienced line up of riders to support his attempt at retaining his title.
With only one of his eight fellow members of Team Sky younger than him Froome is surrounded with a group of well organized veterans. This includes the 37 year old Xabier Zandio who still makes mince meat of mountain stages.
Overall online sportsbooks in the UK have Froome at 2-1 to ride into Paris a double winner of the Tour but whilst punters might be convinced team bosses aren’t as convinced. Froome’s crash in the Criterium Du Dauphine race back in June worries them.
Needing stitches in his elbow, and reportedly feeling the muscles in his legs were stiff, Froome and the team have nonetheless downplayed the injuries saying they were “minor” but how minor can an injury be a couple of weeks before you have to ride 2277 miles in 20 days?
Cycles Of Repetition
Froome’s peak condition prior to the crash was underlined by his victory in the Tour De Romandie, Team Sky’s 150th, where he dominated the final time trial pushing world champion Tony Martin into second place and Jesse Sergent into third.
“It was a close race. I didn’t feel confident, it was flat out and so it wasn’t easy,” said Froome in the aftermath of his win over Simon Spilak by 28 seconds. It remains to be seen if he can repeat these winning ways in the Tour De France.
The length of the race may prove to be of greatest issue as the repetitive 20 day marathon requires riders not only to perform at their best but do so over nearly three weeks. Riding 120 miles a day at competitive speeds is no mean feat.
The Tour pushes riders up some of the steepest mountains in Europe and interrupted with time trials and sprints that sap both mental and physical energy. Teamwork is important but the ability to do it, go to bed, then get up and do it all over again is paramount.
Va Va Froome
“Winning the Tour de France for the first time is a huge undertaking, just consider that only two Brits in the race’s 100 years have managed to do it. That shows how hard it is,” Froome said. “I understand how hard it is to go back.”
He dismisses worries that whereas he entered the tour last year on the back of nine season wins and this time round it’s only six. “The Tour remains the focus, not necessarily winning everything before the Tour.” He responded.
With a good team around him this year there’s every chance that Froome will indeed lift the trophy at the end of the Tour but that injury will worry those looking to place a wager on the winner of the Tour De France this year.
Fair weather and beautiful scenery, an unrivalled national pride in the event and the atmosphere itself are likely to make this an interesting Tour. We’ll have to wait to find out if the racing will be as vital to the enjoyment and if Froome can Va Va Win.