Chris Froome and Buzz Aldrin
For me, the 2013 season has two main narrative strands – Bradley Wiggins’ Giro bid and Chris Froome’s Tour bid. The Giro starts this weekend, but first a quick update on Froome. He’s just won the Tour of Romandie.
What does that mean?
Something and nothing. Romandie is the French-speaking bit of Switzerland. The race therefore takes place in a similar area to important stages in the Tour, so it’s good to win here and in fact the last two Tour winners, Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans, also triumphed in this stage race as part of their preparations.
Set against that is the fact that it wasn’t a stellar field. Other than Alejandro Valverde, I can’t imagine anyone at the Tour of Romandie threatening Froome during the Tour de France. Valverde finished ninth but you get the impression he was due a rest so don’t read too much into that.
A second first
There’s a bit of the Buzz Aldrins about this win as well. There was a fair amount of excitement when Wiggins won the race, but now people are a bit “yeah, so?” about Froome matching his achievements, like he’s simply following a well-paved and clearly signposted path with small Sky logos on every flagstone.
It’s still an achievement though. Buzz Aldrin appeared in an episode of 30 Rock shaking his fist at the moon and shouting “I walked on your face.” He earned the right to treat a celestial body that way because he actually had to work every bit as hard as Armstrong in order to be the second man to achieve something (that’s Neil Armstrong the astronaut by the way, not Lance the professional haematologist and part-time cyclist).
A memorable first
Before this season, the only stage race Froome had ever won was the Mi-Août Bretonne in 2007 (otherwise known as ‘the What-What Bretonne?’). He has now won the Tour of Oman, Critérium International and the Tour of Romandie and also finished second in Tirreno-Adriatico. It’s already been a fantastic season, but it’s the nature of cycling that many people will do the L-shaped thumb and forefinger against the forehead thing at him if comes second in the Tour in July.