In midst of the autumn doldrums, Chris Froome delighted the cycling world last weekend at the Tour’s Shanghai Criterium. It wasn’t his “win” that set the Internet alight, however. Instead, Twitter went bananas for a goofy arm-wrestling match between the four-time Tour champ and sprinter Marcel Kittel.
Froome put up a good fight. But it got me thinking: Maybe he needs to step up his training for the 2018 Tour to ensure he wins that fifth title.
“I fully appreciate just how hard that is. After winning four Tours, it’s definitely not getting easier, that’s for sure,” Froome said in Shanghai. “The level is just getting higher and higher every year.”
With such an unusual Tour route next year, maybe Froome should roll out some unconventional cross-training to prep for the key stages and their perils.
Team-building for stage 3’s TTT
Froome and Sky must have been disappointed with a third-place result in TTT worlds this year. To make matters worse, they lost to Tom Dumoulin’s Sunweb outfit. Will Dumoulin and Co. put time into Froome in the 35km test around Cholet next July? Not if Team Sky gets back to basics. I’m talking about teamwork, plain and simple. Sure, Bjarne Riis can be faulted for his dubious history, but he sure knew how to do some good ol’ fashioned team-building. Maybe Contador only managed two (ish) Tour wins, but he got a nice tan in the offseason. Surely a pale Englishman like Froome would benefit from this off-season workout that Riis’s old Saxo Bank team used to gear up for the 2013 season.
Get rad to clobber the cobblestones
While Froome was goofing around in Shanghai, the freeride mountain bike world was fixated on Red Bull Rampage. The Brit has a rough ride ahead in stage 9 at the Tour. Maybe it’s time to hit the dirt to get accustomed to the gnar? Now, I know what you’re thinking — this is way too dangerous for Froome, let alone any pro roadie. I agree. Fortunately, Froome is so skinny that he should be able to squeeze into multiple sets of body armor. Start with size extra-small, then layer on some medium armor, and top it off with extra-large pads. He’ll look like Randy from “A Christmas Story,” but at least he’ll be safe.
Throw them ‘bows in the club to handle Alpe d’Huez
The funny thing about this stage is that Froome should be fine with the climb itself. However, if history is any guide, the Alpe will be jam-packed with fans this July. He has to avoid a mishap like the crazy crash on Mont Ventoux in 2016, which left him loping up the climb with a broken bike. Froome needs to be prepared to negotiate elbow-to-elbow crowds of drunken revelers like he did on Alpe d’Huez in the 2015 Tour:
Again, Froome can learn from one of cycling’s dirt disciplines. Former U.S. cyclocross champion Jeremy Powers has been known to moonlight as a club DJ. So, next time Powers heads to Europe for a World Cup race, Froome should buy some turntables, hook up with Powers, and mix it up in the discotheque. With those pointy elbows, I think he’ll have no trouble at all on a crowded dance floor.
Scramble up the steeps with Sagan for stage 17
How can this stage possibly climb 12,000 feet in just 65 kilometers? It’s crazy! Well, it seems like Froome will have to get crazy with his training to avoid an ambush like the one that scuttled his 2016 Vuelta on the Formigal stage. Stage 17 is all about steep climbing, but maybe a sprinter actually has the key to training. Yes, that’s right, Peter Sagan is the man to help Froome prep for the Pyrenees. It wouldn’t be the first time they collaborated either — remember how they attacked in stage 11 of the 2016 Tour? That stage rocked.
Although these wacky cross-training tips are ill-advised, we can draw one conclusion from the Shanghai arm-wrestling match. Froome, ever the wiry climber, isn’t carrying any unnecessary upper-body weight. If he had out-matched the beefy German sprinter, Team Sky would have put the kibosh on Froome’s off-season hamburgers and bench-press routine.