Chris Froome can still cycle uphill at great speed
Not the greatest revelation ever. Up there with ‘oranges are still orange’ and ‘online marketing is a pointless, zero-sum game practised by cold, dead-eyed charlatans who talk the talk to a far greater degree than they walk the walk’.
But if you write a cycling website, you take what you can at this point in the season: Chris Froome can still cycle uphill at a right bloody rate.
A trip up green mountain
Stage five of this year’s Tour of Oman was the important one – a summit finish atop Jebel Al Akhdar, a 5km climb that averages 10%. The rest of the stage wasn’t particularly remarkable, so the whole race basically hinged on who could climb five steep kilometres most quickly. The answer, not entirely surprisingly, was Chris Froome.
A lot of riders will still be improving their physical condition after a winter of relatively light cycling, so you can’t judge too much. But what we can say is that Froome hasn’t grown lazy after winning the Tour de France. He was better than everyone else then and he’s better than everyone else now.
Tejay van Garderen came second, 22 seconds down, and Rigoberto Uran was 11 seconds further back. He was followed by familiar faces such as Joaquim Rodriguez, Robert Gesink and official site hero, Domenico Pozzovivo. Perhaps of more relevance are the riders who performed badly, because they have more work to do in order to be competitive for the bigger races later in the year.
Vincenzo Nibali was 1m45s down, but admits he has been half-arsing it a bit recently with his wife due to give birth any minute. The Schlecks (Frank) were 2m19s down and The Schlecks (Andy) once again opted to finish alongside a massive classics rider. Yesterday it was Tom Boonen. Today it was Fabian Cancellara and they were 2m49s down. I’m giving him until the end of this year’s Tour and if he’s still done nowt, I’ll stop mentioning him on the basis that he isn’t a Grand Tour threat to anyone but himself.
If you’re keen to know at precisely what speed Chris Froome cycles uphill, that does of course depend on the length and gradient of the slope. To give just one example, in last year’s Tour he climbed Mont Ventoux – which is 21.8km at an average gradient of 7.4% – in 59 minutes, which is an average speed of 21.86 km/h or 13.6 mph in old money.