Saturday, July 20, 2013

Chris Froome - The Making of a Tour de France Winner

Video [link]

David Kinjah can still remember the day 17 years ago when an 11-year-old boy and his mother came to see him in the village of Kikuyu, in the hills 40km northwest of the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
Kinjah, 42, was an elite Kenyan rider back then and was asked by Froome's mother if he would show her son how to ride and stay safe on the country's pothole-riddled roads.
Now that boy is about to make history and win the 100th Tour de France.
"He was an energetic boy with a little BMX and he was just bike mad," said Kinjah, who coaches a group of young riders called the 'Safari Simbaz'.
"He got a lot of strange looks from people being the only white kid in the village, it was unusual. But he quickly learned to speak Swahili and some of our regional language Kikuyu and he was completely comfortable. The best language he spoke was the language of the bicycle. That was all he was interested in."
Soon Kinjah and Froome were embarking on gruelling 70kms training sessions together and when the teenager left Kenya to go to another school in South Africa, he still kept coming back in the holidays.
A group of cyclists train in Kenya
A group of cyclists train in Kenya, where Chris Froome learned to ride

"I always thought that my training would be too hard for him, but he never flinched, never complained. Chris knew what he wanted and he worked hard to get there. But back then you could never have predicted that he would go on to top the world of cycling. It was always cycling, cycling, cycling with us but we had such fun together."
Froome has gone on to dominate this year's Tour de France and his progress is followed closely in the village of Kikuyu, where local riders gather at Kinja's house to watch coverage of the race on the only TV with a satellite feed.
"At 3pm every day we stop what we are doing and we watch the Tour. We're very proud of Chris. He hasn't changed one bit. He's not the kind of guy to walk on people's heads, he respects everybody. He never stops working hard, that's why he is where he is today."
As we chat, I notice Kinjah's beautifully stitched cycling shoes. He's proud to wear them, he tells me, because Froome wore this exact pair in last year's Tour where he finished second behind Bradley Wiggins.
"Chris likes to send me some of his stuff that he wears. We have the same size feet, a perfect fit really. I like cycling in them because it makes me feel the weight of the Tour de France. I can feel the weight of that history when I ride here in Kenya and it makes me feel honoured."
Chris Froome in action during stage 16 of the Tour de France
Chris Froome and his Sky Procycling team members during stage 16 of Le Tour
One question Kinjah is tired of answering, however, is the issue of doping in cycling. He's adamant that his protege has got where he is today through nothing more than hard work.
"People should not judge a book by the cover. They don't know Chris Froome and they don't know where he has come from and where he has been," he said.
"He wants to win seven Tours so he can delete the Lance Armstrong wins and put them all back clean. That's what he wants to do."
Kinjah plans to celebrate his friend's victory with a 'yellow jersey ride' on Sunday and he's predicting Froome's success will have a huge impact on African cycling.
"The potential is here, there is so much talent. It's only a matter of time before we find another Chris Froome.
"I'm proud of what he has achieved. His mother was a marvellous woman, she got into cycling too and helped us greatly. She would be very proud of what her boy has done with his life."


No comments:

Post a Comment

Always great to hear from you :O)