The secret of Froome's Tour de France superiority (it's not rocket science)
So what do you reckon about Froome? Is he legit? That's what the text from my mate Boris said.
My first reaction was to tell him to clear off, or words to that effect. But since Boris is a bit of a layman when it comes to cycling, and as he added in a subsequent text, "he's so far out in front that a lot of people will be asking the same question," I decided it best to dignify his question with an answer.
It's true that on the face of it, Chris Froome's achievement looks difficult to believe. Here he is about to win his third Tour de France. His performance in the mountains has been remarkable even without those memorable moments when he attacked down the Col de Peyresourde and won stage eight. And how can we forget the sight of him running up Mont Ventoux when his bike was wrecked on stage 12?
He has always maintained his strength and aside from a tumble on the wet stage 19, has suffered little in the way of Tour threatening incidents.
This is what will raise suspicions, but this isn't about him. It is about a team so strong that no one can touch it. Dave Brailsford's marginal gains win again. You'd think after all these years the other teams would have caught on to why Team Sky are so successful. It's not all about the money, although it clearly is an advantage to have a purse big enough to choose the finest riders cycling has to offer for your team. It's more than that, though. It's more about the attitude towards rider welfare.
It's no secret that Team Sky take the comfort of their riders very seriously. Granted, those hours riding a tour stage must be sheer hell but every other waking moment is dedicated to making riders feel as comfortable as possible.
If you question the importance of a good night's sleep to performance, consider this. Team Sky take pillows and mattress toppers to every hotel to ensure riders receive as peaceful a night's sleep as possible.
At the other end of the scale, Bora Argon18 actively discourage riders from even bringing along their own pillows, lest they all decide to do it. "These are young riders, they shouldn't need to bring their own bedding," they told RCUK's Oli Gill. This is a prime example of why Team Sky are so far ahead in the GC. The other teams still don't get it. They can't get their heads round the fact that little things add up and together create an advantage.
This is how Chris Froome is still supported by his wingmen far into a stage and often right through to the end when the key riders of other teams are forced to battle it out alone because their teammates have been forced to fall back, out of sheer exhaustion.
Froome is blessed with a natural strength, which comes with growing up at high altitude. He has bigger lung capacity than others.
This, combined with a fresh, powerful and rested support team have made him unstoppable.
That is what has given him the advantage and until rival teams wake up to what makes Team Sky consistently better than rivals, is what will continue to do so.
So Boris, there is your answer. I'm off to Paris for stage 21.