3 August 2015
I watched this year’s Tour de France with interest. Rather than focussing on the extraordinary talent on show, the world has been gripped by a non-scandal around the extraordinary performance of the race’s eventual champion, Chris Froome.
Whilst Froome displayed incredible strength and tenacity to take the title, my biggest fascination has been watching the way the team admirably handled accusations of cheating and relentless abuse from the crowds over in France, including being targeted by spit and urine.
I believe that the experts questioning Froome’s ability and joking that there must be a motor in his bike, whilst not outright claiming doping, they are making such a preposterous claim that the assumption will be that the team are cheating.
It’s a potentially clever tactic for a competing team. Team Sky were already on the back foot after a disastrous 2014 race, Froome had reportedly been unwell and this could have been the final nail in the team’s Tour de France coffin. But mental strength is a force to be reckoned with, perhaps more so than physical.
When faced with what could be perceived as certain defeat, the team stepped it up a gear.
It’s worth noting that Froome didn’t win every race; he won the key races he really needed to. What about the winner of the Paris race? Is he cheating too, because he beat Froome?
Bear in mind that whilst Team Sky bolstered their spirits and pushed on to victory in the midst of horrendous conditions; the competition continued to spread these rumours, rather than looking internally and assessing what they need to do to raise their own game.
To beat Froome you have to be physically and mentally stronger – there are years of training to go into it. It’s too easy to dismiss him as a cheat and give yourself an excuse of why you can’t do what he is doing. I think it was Bradley Wiggins who said something along the lines of, “if you want to beat him, try harder!”.
Whilst it is a real shame that Froome’s extraordinary performance wasn’t celebrated, it was questioned and marred with allegations; I am proud to see how Froome absorbed the pressure and upped his game and showed these doubters just what he can achieve.
If it were me, I am not sure I’d be able to be so calm under pressure. Its testament to his trainers and his team and coach, he has an incredible temperament and you can see just why he is the genuine article.
Ironically, I have a funny feeling that all the angst the French created in the Tour De France is simply fuel for the future.
How do you handle negativity?