Althouth his Sky teammate is leading the Tour de France, many journalists at the Grande Boucle seem far more fascinated with Chris Froome, Sky's 27 year old Wiggo understudy. Perhaps it's the smug, foul-mouthed, pseudo rock star persona of Sky's Bradley Wiggins that's off-putting, but the Maillot Jaune has few supporters in the salle de press, with the exception of the rigid Brits. However, 27 year old Froome, who is currently sitting 2'05" behind Wiggo looks to be the strongest climber in the Tour this year and has provided precious help to Wiggins.
Born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1985, his family, originally from Brighton, England emigrated to Africa where his father worked organizing safaris. As a kid, Froome enjoyed riding his mountain bike in the bush and when his parents separated, moved with his family to South Africa and attended St John's College in Johannesburg. From mountain biking, Froome started road racing in South Africa, specialising as a climber and eventually left his studies at 21 to turn pro with the small SA outfit Konica Minolta.
Former Saeco GM Claudio Corti took over Team Barloworld, sponsored by a large SA industrial distribution group Barloworld and while he was at a race in South Africa, Barloworld's Robbie Hunter introduced climber Froome to Corti, who offered him a spot on the ProContinental squad for 2008. Froome move to Italy and rode the 2008 Tour de France, finishing 84th on GC. The next year, Froomey took it up a notch at the 2009 Giro d'Italia,finishing 36th on GC.
After Barloworld was not invited to the '09 Tour de France, the squad folded and Froome moved to Sky and started slowly, but at the 2011 Vuelta a España, where his role was to support Wiggins in the mountains, Froome exploded, where he was 2nd in the Stage 10 TT ahead of Wiggins and took the race lead. Eventually Froomewas second in the Vuelta, equalling Robert Millar's 2nd place in the 1987 Giro d'Italia as the highest finish by a British rider in a Grand Tour. After the Vuelta, Froome revealed he suffered from parasitic disease Bilharzia, having been diagnosed in 2010.
The long, tall British-African climber signed a lucrative three-year deal with Sky at the end of the year and although his 2012 season started slowly with a return of his Bilharzia infection, Froome returned to action in May to support Wiggins in his win in Romandie. Despite some snafus that lead observers to speculate mutiny, Froome is dedicated to support Wiggo in this years tour and had an excellent chance to end up on the podium in Paris as runner-up. Question is, if Wiggo comes back in 2012 as defending Tour champion with explosive climbers like Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck as his principal adversaries, what will Sky do? If Wiggins has one weakness, it is his lack of explosively on the climbs. With repeated attacks, riders like Contador and Schleck can isolate him. So will Sky let Froomey off the leash then? To be continued at the 2013 Tour de France.
Nails Part 2 & BMC Slapstick
The total is in on the Tour's Stage 14 carpet tack attack, when someone laced the Tour's final climb and descent with sharp, half-inch nails. Tour organizers reported that there were 62 punctures that hit 31 riders, with defending Team BMC's Tour champion Cadel Evans hit three times!. The scene of Evans desperately waiting for a teammate to give him a rear wheel atop the Mur de Péguère with 38.5km to race, then his two subsequent punctures while chasing almost put an end to his Tour de France chances, but a sporting gesture by Maillot Jaune Wiggins put paid to any riding on the front while Evans chased.
One strange part of the episode was that the rider that was supposed to support him in the mountains, young American TJ Van Garderen was just ahead of Evans and seemed unaware of the seriousness of the situation at the time. "I heard Cadel had a puncture but I wasn't quite sure what the situation was. I thought we had another teammate in there but in hindsight I should have waited for him. It was loud and chaotic and could kind of gather that he had a puncture but I wasn't sure." Usually the riders who are assigned to escort a team leader in the mountains are positioned behind the leader so that if a puncture occurs, they can provide a wheel or bike for a quick change as service cars may not be available on the chaotic mountain stages.
Van Garderen hopes to finish his second Tour de France on the podium in Paris with the Maillot Blanc of Best Young Rider and the talented young rider from Montana is already looking to future Tours. "The first goal of the Tour is to ensure Cadel finishes as high as possible,” he told the european media after Stage 14 "Cadel is a champion and it’s an honor to ride for him here. Although he is focused on his own Tour, he is also willing to help me out. Hopefully I can now keep the white jersey into Paris and who knows, one year I could even win the Tour."
Liquigas-Cannondale's Moreno Moser has just won the Tour de Pologne. While Peter Sagan is shining at the Tour, 21 year old Moser, nephew of Italian cycling great Francesco Moser, has notched 4 pro wins in his rookie season, including the prestigious polish race. Moser battled two other young talents, Polish rider Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) and Sky's young Colombian climber Sergio Henao and thanks to a time bonus on Stage 6, he rode hime the winner
At the post-race press conference, mini-Moser explained "This victory in Poland is a great satisfaction for me. I lost the race lead on Stage 4, but I got it back thanks to the trust and support the team gave me. So tThanks to them! I learned the responsibility of leading a stage race here, like learning to hold out every day. The route of the race was perfect for me and the best part, besides winning, was that I improved evert day." With Sagan and Moser emerging as top riders, Liquigas-Cannondale will not feel the loss of Vicenzo Nibali as much when he heads to Astana in 2013.