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Chris Froome — love him or hate him, he left cycling fans awestruck after his third Tour de France victory, a silver medal at the Olympics, and a runner-up finish in the Vuelta. Naturally, VeloNews has spilled plenty of (digital) ink covering the Brit’s exploits throughout the season, in France, Spain, and beyond. So, as 2016 comes to a close, here are five of our favorite stories about “Froomey” from the season.
As Chris Froome’s rivals exhaled, mentally checking off the last climb of the day, Sky’s captain pulled in one more breath and turned it into half a dozen pedal strokes that have electrified this Tour de France.
“A sneak attack,” BMC’s Tejay van Garderen called it, a hint of disbelief in his voice. “You give him an inch and he’ll take a mile.”
It was crazy. On a day tailor-made for sprinters (at least on paper), Sagan dropped the hammer with 10km to go in Wednesday’s windy, wild stage into Montpellier to try to catch the peloton’s fast men off-guard. The world champion found some good company with yellow jersey Froome, and each had one teammate in tow (Geraint Thomas and Maciej Bodnar), the winning move was made.
It was the peloton’s two strongest men on the two strongest teams holding off the furiously chasing peloton and having the times of their lives.
After the wild Peyresourde descent, and the sneak attack with Peter Sagan, we started to think: This isn’t the Froome we thought we knew. Spencer Powlison, for one, was so struck by his aggressive riding that he decided to pen an open letter to the yellow jersey wearer.
Well, you did it, Chris Froome. You managed to turn me into a bona fide fan. And there’s still over a week to go in the Tour de France. As someone who has a professional obligation to watch nearly every major bike race (it’s not hazardous duty), you were hard to root for.
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But just a day after his bold attack with Sagan, Froome did something that had us scratching our heads. There is no rule, written or unwritten, requiring a splintered peloton to wait for the yellow jersey’s teammates. Odd, then, that it’s precisely what happened on Thursday. It seems quite inconsequential after the chaos of Ventoux, but events 30 kilometers prior might have set up the entire finish differently.
About two months later, controversy struck again as a substantial portion of the Vuelta peloton was spared the time cut, including seven of Froome’s Sky teammates. But the Brit was unflappable. “Personally, I think the rule probably should have been upheld, but I understand their thinking, and it’s up to them to make that decision,” he said.
Okay, we promised you five stories, but here’s a bonus, and it’s actually from December 2015. In it, Caley Fretz explains how Chris Froome inspires two strains of skepticism. Both were admirably addressed, though not quashed, by his release of the physiological testing results from mid-August 2015. The first is his quick rise — that he came from nowhere at 26, two years older than Nairo Quintana is today, with the excuse of a strange disease and an inhaler in his pocket. The second is based on an assertion of super-human performance, based on oft-calculated but infrequently measured outputs that must be the result of shady inputs, critics shout.