Tour de France 2020

Froome on head dip: ‘My neck gets tired’

Why does Chris Froome end up looking at his stem on the Tour de France's tough climbs? The yellow jersey has a simple explanation.

LA TOUSSUIRE, France (VN) — The final question during Friday’s post-stage press conference wasn’t about Vincenzo Nibali’s (Astana) controversial attack or Nairo Quintana’s (Movistar) desperate efforts to claw back GC time. It was one that everyone has been asking for years: Why does Chris Froome (Sky) slump his head when he’s climbing?

Froome’s pedaling style is unorthodox by any measure, and that’s especially true when he’s spinning his high cadence deep in the mountains.

The yellow jersey had a surprising answer.

“I am not just staring at my power meter when my head goes down,” Froome said. “Quite simply, my neck gets tired.”

No one is ever going to accuse Froome of being smooth on the bike. One team staffer described him as a “praying mantis on a banana.” Bradley Wiggins — who boasted one of the smoothest pedal strokes in the peloton — he’s not.

“I have a fairly rounded back, and my neck gets quite tired when I am holding it up high,” he said. “It’s easier for me to breathe. Somehow I can get more air in my legs when my head is down than when it’s up.”

With elbows thrashing and knees spinning, Froome’s pedaling style is working. Even if it isn’t a thing of beauty, he is one hard day of racing from winning his second Tour de France.