There’s no need for a CSI investigation to conclude Chris Froome and Brad Wiggins aren’t the best of pals. In a similar, albeit diametrically opposed kind of way, it’s also well documented that Froomey and his Team Sky wingman, Richie Porte, are pretty tight. As Porte pointed out to a gathering of journalists, sponsors and general cycling nuts during a post-dinner slide show recently, except for a small handful of events the two riders generally room together, train together and race together all season. Fortunate then, they get along so well.
Given the intimacy of their professional relationship, there are few on this earth who know the Kenyan-born Brit as well as the Monaco-based Launcestonian. So we asked Porte at what stage did he feel sure Froome would win the 2013 Tour? His answer caught the group slightly off-guard, for rather than talk about Stage 8 to Ax 3 Domaines where Froome first seized the maillot jaune, the epic Stage 15 assault of Mont Ventoux or even the 32km Stage 17 ITT to Chorges, Porte instead pinpointed a race many weeks before the Tour.
As usual, on this day Porte had done a mountain of work with his black and blue team-mates to pilot Froome into the optimal position leading into the business end of the stage. However, Froome noticed his number two was in need of a breather. Feeling strong, he suggested Porte jump on his wheel for a rest. Porte laughed as he recounted this; for Froome was already in such rude form, trying to hold his wheel was about as opposite to having a rest as a fatigued cyclist could get. That’s when, in his own mind, Porte really felt his good mate was going to win the yellow in 2013. And of course he did precisely that.
You get the feeling Porte has hundreds of Chris Froome stories. Another amusing anecdote originated from the Grand Depart of the 2013 Tour de France on Corsica. Whilst the race would end in considerable glory and unbridled joy for Froome and Co, Porte points out things didn’t start especially well. In fact, unbeknownst to many, about three kilometres into Stage One – not even out of the neutralised zone in Porto Vecchio – Chris Froome somehow managed to slam straight into a hay bale, much to the momentary horror of his team-mates. As Porte recalls, the offending obstacle was plainly visible to the riders. But in an impressive show of social media awareness, he jokes that perhaps his mate was too busy looking at his stem. Either way, it saw the eventual winner crashing before the race had even officially begun. Froome was forced to swap bikes but was otherwise okay. Unlike many in the field, it was the only time he’d eat tarmac in the entire three weeks.