Chris Froome, the overwhelming favourite to follow Bradley Wiggins as Britain’s second, consecutive Tour de France winner, has an air of invisibility.
We know plenty about the side-burned one, but who on earth is Chris Froome?
‘’I don’t think we know yet. He’s certainly a superb athlete,’’ Chris Boardman, the man who first turned Britain on to cycling, tells me.
Like Wiggins, Froome wasn’t actually born within sound of people who moan about the weather. A childhood spent in Nairobi meant his first stint as a professional rider was under the Kenyan flag, although he has made it clear many a time that he “feels” British. He’s also, at 28, the perfect age for Tour glory.
Following Wiggins is a little like asking the Lighthouse Family to take the stage straight after the Rolling Stones, but all that could change in the Pyrenees on the punishing Peyresourde or on the long roads through the Loire Valley.
Eighteen months ago, it was Boardman who was most bullish about Wiggo’s chances of winning this famous race, so is he willing to go that far for the “Froomedog”?
“He is one of the best climbers in the world, but he can certainly time trial. And in Sky he’s got the best team,’’ enthuses Boardman. “But something will rile him and we’ll get to see a bit of who he is.”
So, another chapter of one of the toughest, most electrifying, most controversial sporting events in the calendar will be written. Cycling’s star continues to rise, something that a young Boardman, winning the prologue in the fastest time trial ever in 1994, couldn’t have imagined.
‘’I don’t think anyone in their wildest dreams would have predicted this level of success and notoriety. It’s absolutely remarkable. I bloody love it — I’ve got a bike company. It’s fantastic.”
Unplug the telephone…
This weekend, make sure you don’t commit to extracurricular activities such as birthdays, weddings or anything more than a quick shower. Instead, block out Saturday and Sunday for the culmination of Wimbledon, the final Lions test down under and the German F1 Grand Prix. Your only worry should be your snack supplies.