Sunday 23 April 2017

Paul Kimmage: Chris Froome could be one of the greatest riders of all time, but questions remain

Chris Froome celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the tenth stage of the Tour de France
Chris Froome celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the tenth stage of the Tour de France
Declan Whooley

Declan Whooley

Paul Kimmage believes that until Team Sky offer full transparency of their cyclists, uncertainty will surround the "extraordinary" achievements of Chris Froome.

Froome's incredible climb on La Pierre-Saint-Martin last week has put him in control of the yellow jersey as he seeks a second Tour de France in three years, but critics have questioned the performance, with French television on Sunday night using medical "experts" to raise suspicions regarding the Tour leader.

Today Team Sky attempted to wrest back control of the PR agenda by releasing Froome’s performance data, but Kimmage says the press conference was a "shambles" and does not put to bed the doubts about the cyclist.

"There are two areas they are struggling with, ethics and credibility," he told Newstalk's Off The Ball programme.

Read more: Tour de France performance speculation only a 'sideshow' says leader Chris Froome

"They bring these journalists in, release numbers that make no sense to anybody, get everybody running off producing these crazy reports. It's just a complete and utter mess."

The Kenyan-born rider has a lead of more than three minutes over his nearest challenger Nairo Quintana and the difference between Froome and the rest of the pack is noticeable says the former cyclist.

"The context of this storm, and it has been a storm since Froome produced that extraordinary performance last week, is that all these guys are well trained, they all have dietitians on board. You see this massive difference now between what Froome is doing and what everyone else.

Froome rode the storm to the Champs-Élysées but things got worse in 2014, when he was photographed sucking from an inhaler before going on the attack to win the second stage of the Criterium de Dauphine in June.
Froome rode the storm to the Champs-Élysées but things got worse in 2014, when he was photographed sucking from an inhaler before going on the attack to win the second stage of the Criterium de Dauphine in June.

Read more: Paul Kimmage: Tour de France leader Chris Froome would be well advised to invite questions

"Everybody else seems to be shattered from the race and Froome has retained this extraordinary freshness from the start, and you kind of wonder about that.

"How are they doing this?

"It's a logical question. He does so much different to anything we have ever seen before. He has this awful, ugly racing style. He's thin and rides with a cadence that makes no sense at all.

"Anybody who has ever raced a bike looks at Chris Froome ride and says, 'Jesus, that is extraordinary, it's just amazing the way he rides his bike'".

The Sunday Independent columnist, one of the few critics of Lance Armstrong during his dominance of the sport, believes we could be witnessing one of the greatest riders to ever grace a bike if proven to be clean, whatever that means.

"I would be very curious to know as to what Chris Froome and the elite riders regard as being clean.

"He could be the greatest of all-time. He could be something we have never seen before, something unique. Unfortunately, he does not have the pedigree. This hasn't been the way he's been since he entered the sport. This is the big question mark.

"How has this guy transferred into one of the greatest riders of all time? That is what we are seeing now and that is what we saw two years ago.

"That puts a huge responsibility on Chris Froome and on his team.

"What good is winning if that is what winning brings? Open your doors, show us how you are doing it."

Read more: Chris Froome slams 'unacceptable' behaviour as fan drenches Tour de France leader in urine

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