We all love that moment when a supposedly predictable fight is upended by a gutsy challenger, as was the case in the 2011 Vuelta a España, which became a battle royal between two designated underdogs — Team Sky’s Chris Froome and eventual winner Juan Jose Cobo of Geox-TMC.Team Sky had written its script with Bradley Wiggins playing the lead role in this Tour de France. But second-in-command Chris Froome upstaged the established grand-tour in yesterdays stage where he showed his superior form in the mountains, practically dragging his team leader along in a bid to stay in contention for the overall title.Team management came in for a great deal of criticism for sticking with Wiggins rather than rallying behind vroum vroum Froome. A quick talk with boy wonder.
-You were born in Kenya and you passed your early childhood in Nairobi. Did you have any opportunity there to compete with the other cycling toddlers
– Well my father was often away from home to organize safaris and brought from one of his expeditions a second hand tricycle. It came from a great aunt that had worked for the RAF during the war in England . She had laid hands on a vintage Peugot tricycle, that had been used by the french resistance. It had no breaks nut was equipped with a torpedo. That was sufficient to leave the indigenous behind on their roller skates.
-And of course there were mountains in Kenya?
-Well, we moved to South Africa and I had a license under Kenyan flag. On the mountain biking world championships; in Salzburg in 2006, the entire Kenyan delegation ( me and my mountain bike) came to fall when a UCI official bumped into us. After a genteman’s agreement to settle the damage it was a piece of cake to participate in the Tour and the Giro under a South African license. Later I counterfeited the British passport of my deceased grandfather to be able to join Team Skype . In that respect I could as well have started a career as a refugee smuggler.
– Last year in the Vuelta you finished second in the time trial after Martins and Captain Wiggins but out of loyalty you finished second all over. Was that the beginning of your “apprenticeship” ?
-They called us Professor Wiggins and My Fair Lady. After every ride the song of My Fair Lady echoed in the Sky bus:
How kind of you to let me come!
Now once again, where does it rain?
On the plain! On the plain!
And where’s that blasted plain?
In Spain! In Spain!
The gain in Vuelta Stays Mainly in the claim!
The Froome in Spain Stays Mainly in the plain!
But I have learned to live, a vous l’honneur à moi les fleurs. If you understand what I mean.
-No, not at all and certainly the readers don’t, you can blow away Wiggins. Does the whole Sky merchandising only focus on Wiggins? Team Sky had the ambition of a British tour in 2015 to win, So what?
– Well in our depot in Deinze there are piles of yellow jerseys with Higgins coal chopper head printed on them, they stacked them high as soon the must fly…