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NAIROBI (AFP) — Kenya, the birthplace of Tour de France winner Chris Froome, celebrated his victory on Monday but expressed regret he chose to fly a British flag instead of a Kenyan one on the podium.
“Why did we let him go? Now the glory goes to UK,” wrote Allan Buluku in Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper.
“But no matter, he has done Kenya proud. Congratulations Froome, we salute you.”
Froome, 28, became Britain’s second successive winner of the prestigious race when he crossed the finish line in Paris on Sunday, following Bradley Wiggins’ success in 2012.
The Tour champion spent his childhood learning to ride in Nairobi before moving to South Africa as a teenager.
While many Kenyans bicycle, few do so competitively, and Froome was little known before his win.
However, the Daily Nation carried a photograph of Froome celebrating his win on its front page, while The Standard newspaper led its sports pages with the headline, “Tour King Froome.”
David Kinjah, 43, Froome’s mentor when he first took up the sport as a boy and whom Froome has called his “inspiration,” took to the streets Sunday with fellow cyclists to celebrate the win.
But he also said he was disappointed that the win was seen as a British victory, criticizing what he said was disorganization within Kenya’s cycling authorities.
Froome had previously ridden for Kenya the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
“If it were not for the frustrations that we encountered form the cycling body, we could now have been celebrating a Kenyan victory,” Kinjah told the Daily Nation.
“It is time now to embrace change and bring justice to our hardworking sports men and women.”