Breathing new life into a cycle: Chris Froome

By Arpita Gulyani

/Chris Froome was born 20 May 1985 in Nairobi Kenya. His parents Clive and Jane were British. Jane was born in Kenya. His father Clive represented England at under 19 hockey.

At the age of 12, Chris got involved in cycling through Kenyan cyclist David Kinjah. Kinjah was happy to encourage the young white kid and often Chris would get taken on long bike rides with native Kenyan riders through the rural highlands of Nairobi. Although Chris was riding with much older riders, he was determined to keep up and ride long distances on very basic bikes.

Aged 14, Chris moved to one of South Africa’s top boarding schools, where he subsequently went not to study economics. Cycling was very much a minority sport, but Chris was able to keep cycling – sometimes riding an indoor trainer for several hours. He also played rugby which he said he enjoyed, though was too small to be any good.

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He raced as a teenager and left college early to become a professional cyclist at the age of 22, supporting his team mates in a background role as domestique. Despite his early successes and unique physiology he was seen as a somewhat inconsistent performer until it was revealed that he had been battling the parasitic disease schistosomiasis throughout most of his early career. With his condition treated and more under control, he rapidly rose to take the lead in three stage races in a single year, including the prestigious ‘Tour de France’. Because his ‘Tour de France’ win came the year after the Lance Armstrong doping scandal received media attention, he fell under rigorous scrutiny for illegal doping but his tests and medical records proved he was clean. Currently Froome has a contract with the British racing squad ‘Team Sky’, and continues to set records with his powerful performances. He is also an Olympic medalist for his performance in time trials, and is currently the defending champion in multiple world recognized races including the ‘Tour de Oman’ and the ‘Tour de Romandie’.

Career

  • In 2007, Froome abandoned his degree in economics to become a professional bike racer with the South African team, Konica Minolta. He rode his first single race in May, winning stage five of the ‘Giro delle Regioni’, and competed in multiple time trials and circuits throughout the year.
  • After his breakaway debut performance, in 2008 he met South African cyclist Robbie Hunter, who introduced him to the ‘UCI Continental team’, Barloworld. He signed with them for their upcoming season and became the first Kenyan participant in the ‘Tour de France’ with the Barloworld squad, finishing 84th overall and 11th among the young rider classification.
  • During this time Froome caught the eye of British Cycling coach, Rod Ellingworth, and the two discussed the possibility of Froome representing Britain.
  • In March of 2009 Froome claimed his first professional win on the second stage of the ‘Giro del Capo’ in Durbanville, South Africa, finishing four minutes ahead of the competition. In September of that year it was announced that he would join the British cycling team, ‘Team Sky’, for their upcoming season.

 

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