Friday, July 14, 2017

Froome is of a certain age

There was that notorious incident in 2012 on stage 8 of the Tour de France:
"When he accelerated on La Toussuire with four kilometres to go, Chris Froome left behind Bradley Wiggins, the rest of the group and, it appeared, team orders.

Twenty seconds later, he spoke into the race radio, slowed and the fragments drifted back together.

“They asked me to slow down,” Froome said after the finish, referring to Team Sky directeur sportif Sean Yates."
Back in 2012, Froome was aged 27 and Wiggins was 32. Wiggins cracked on that final slope - this chart might explain why:

Elite cyclists are at their strongest aged 27-29: by 32 they're down by a third

Cut to stage 12 of the Tour this year:
"Chris Froome's brief attack on teammate and race leader Bradley Wiggins that day in 2012 is now the stuff of legend and, though clearly not on the same level, there were question marks over Mikel Landa's role as Froome struggled on the brutally steep gradients.

The Spaniard, Froome's last teammate and himself in the top 10 overall, didn't look around as the maillot jaune lost ground, instead forging on to finish fourth on the stage."
Fabio Aru then took the maillot jaune, Landa forging ahead as Froome cracked. Froome is now aged 32, while both Landa and Aru are 27.


There were other reasons touted. Richie Porte - ever loyal - said from his hospital bed that Froome had hit the wall due to messing up his feeding. Others noted that Aru (66 kg) and Landa (60 kg) are lightweight pure climbers while Froome (71 kg and a generalist climber/time-trialist) is quite a bit heavier.

But the age-related roll-off of performance is hard to argue against. Team Sky will be looking hard for their next GC candidate. A shame that Landa appears to be off for Astana or Movistar.


Update (Saturday).

Froome emphatically back in yellow today. Not so much a new-found strength as clever tactics completely bamboozling Aru and his team Astana. Team Sky are head-and-shoulders smarter than most other teams.

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