Quick Q&A with Chris Froome
Minutes before boarding a plane the morning after winning the third stage and the overall title of Criterium International on the island of Corsica, Chris Froome spoke about the race with RIDE Cycling Review. There has been a number of comments about the question of leadership at Team Sky but much of it, in the appraisal of those concerned at least, isn’t accurate. Froome had attacked on the final climb of stage three, opened a gap thanks largely to a ploy by the reigning race leader, his good friend and team-mate Richie Porte. There were time bonuses on offer that could have determined the GC winner at the top of the Col de l’Ospedale and, with some radio communication (which wasn’t an option in this non-WorldTour event) the overall result might have been different.
The full interview will be part of our 15th anniversary issue (#60, due out in May). But here is a brief portion of that interview that helps to explain the tactics that played out in that final stage of the two-day event…
RIDE: I sent Richie a message on the eve of the first stage and he replied saying that he’d be there [Corsica] working for you. So from that, I took it that – although he had the leader’s jersey – there was no ambiguity about who was the team leader for the race.
Chris Froome: “Well, yeah. Coming out of that time trial he had the leader’s jersey, I think I was two second back and for the win on top of the climb was an extra 10 bonus seconds for the winner. Basically anyone in the top five, I think, if they’d finished in front – even if we had been on their wheel – with those time bonuses we could have still lost the overall. It was basically whoever won that stage would win the race overall. The goal was for both of us to go for it.
“I was actually planning on pulling for Richie until two kilometres to go. That was the plan – and then for him to attack. But with about five kilometres to go he just laid off my wheel while I was pulling and no one really reacted. So I looked back and thought, ‘Okay, that’s obviously the card Richie is playing and I’ve got to actually keep this up now: keep riding to the finish’… no doubt Richie will have a free ride at the back sitting on whoever is chasing me, so I thought: ‘Why not? Keep it going and Richie can still attack closer to the line.’ And he did and I think that’s how we ended up with a one-two.”
RIDE: At the end of stage three, in the last few kilometres, it seemed like you were looking behind a little bit. Had you been told Richie was coming forward?
Chris Froome: “No, I hadn’t been told he was coming forward. The guys on the motorbikes kept on telling me I had a 15-second gap, so I just kept on looking over my shoulder to see who was at 15 seconds.
“Ideally, with Richie in the [leader’s] jersey, I would have liked to have seen him keep it to be honest. But I wasn’t sure who was coming and I couldn’t see who it was. I just thought that I’d better just keep riding.”
RIDE: There’s not much use in a moto that just speeds past and yells out “15 seconds” is there? You need a little bit more information than that for it to be useful…
Chris Froome: “Exactly. You need to know who is there, how many riders are at 15 seconds – and they weren’t giving me any of that so it was just a case of, ‘Okay, I better not chance it in case.’ With 15 seconds, I thought if any of those guys at the back – like Tejay [van Garderen] or [Andrew] Talansky… I mean, 15 seconds could be closed in a blink of an eye if they hadn’t yet attacked or hadn’t started attacking each other. But I wasn’t really aware of what was going on behind without having radios or anything, it leaves you thinking a lot more out on the road.”
RIDE: You certainly know how to get social media fired up. There are a lot of people making comments about you and leadership and everything. Do you pay much attention to it?
Chris Froome: “Oh, not really. Obviously, I do see the comments but that comes with the territory. I mean, naturally, I think if you’re winning a lot people are going to try and find things to bring you down but I think we – Richie and I – both at least know that what we did was 100 per cent right and we’ve come away with a first and second… there’s not a lot more we could ask for.
“I mean, I don’t think either of us minded who actually came over the line first.
“We’re really good friends. We train together almost every day and I think we’re just as happy with that result as we would have been if it was the other way around.”
RIDE: I get the impression that the British media is quite enjoying the fact that there are questions of leadership and potential rivalries. They’re trying to stir some emotions from stories that don’t really exist. Is that your take on it?
Chris Froome: “One hundred per cent. I think the British media love some kind of a gossip story and it should be different. I’d love them to write a story about what we’re doing and how great it is to be in the position that we’re in: being able to win races clean like this and in such a dominant way. But unfortunately, I think it’s going the other way and we’re getting more of the whole sort of gossip side of it – who’s the leader? Etcetera. It’s not idea but that’s but that’s what we have to put up with.”
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