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Tour de France champion's autobiography outlines his feelings on 2012 race when he was 2nd to team mate...

Chris Froome says he came close to leaving Team Sky in late 2011, and has laid bare the tensions within Team Sky during the 2012 Tour de France, where he finished as runner-up to team mate Sir Bradley Wiggins.

Froome, who succeeded Wiggins as Tour de France champion last July, is also critical of Sky team principal Sir Dave Brailsford in extracts published in The Sunday Times from his autobiography, The Climb.

In particular, Froome says thar his understanding of what thhe was promised when he signed a contract to stay with the British WorldTour team in 2011 was not reflected in the way he was treated during the following year's Tour de France, which he rode in support of Wiggins.

Tensions between the Sky’s two star riders began simmering during the 2011 Vuelta, which Wiggins rode after retiring injured from the Tour de France. Froome took the race lead, but was ordered to ride in support of Wiggins.

However, Froome finished the race the stronger rider, placing second behind Geox-TMC ‘s Juan Jose Cobo, and many believe he would have won the race had Sky placed its faith in him rather than Wiggins.

A new deal

It was immediately after the Vuelta that Froome signed a new, three-year deal with Sky, but the 29-year-old says that he was tempted by offers from rival teams that were able to guarantee him undisputed leadership in major stage races.

Referring to the package originally offered to him by Brailsford, he said: "I wanted a contract that reflected being a leader, rather than a domestique.

"It was getting stressful and I sent Dave a long and quite strong message saying there would be no more going back and forth. I also said that that was the final offer, I was going elsewhere."

Froome revealed he was unhappy with the backing he got from Brailsford ahead of the 2012 Tour, saying: "I wanted Dave to agree that I had a chance to win the Tour de France, or at least not be stuck in a system where I couldn't.

"Finishing second in Spain after doing so much work for Brad had given me confidence. When other teams proposed contracts that showed me they wanted me as their leader, that made me think: why shouldn't I go for the Tour de France?

"Dave was enthusiastic and convincing and, though I wanted reassurance, I also wanted to stay with the team.

"I thought that what he told me meant that I could go to the Tour de France and have my chance to win it. But he didn't actually say this. Instead, he spoke of two guys riding for GC with one being the designated leader and the other riding as his back-up.

"The details were never teased out. Dave's words would mean just what he chose them to mean.

"To an outsider, unfamiliar with how teams work, it probably seems bizarre that a rider would have to persuade his team to try to allow him to win the biggest race in the sport."

Wiggins "arrogant"

On the 2012 Tour de France, Froome won Stage 7 at La Planche des Belles-Filles, with Wiggins third and taking the race leader’s yellow jersey, which he would keep all the way to Paris. Froome was not happy with his team mate’s reaction, however.

“He had to do lots of interviews,” explained Froome. “I heard him say something like: ‘A fantastic day for the team. Chris winning the stage; I’m in the yellow jersey. Great.’ Then he added: ‘Now he’s got his stage win, he’s going to be an integral part of helping me to try to win the Tour.’

“I thought it was such an arrogant thing to say: Chris has had his little moment, now he can concentrate on his real job.”

Froome disclosed that he got support from another Sky rider who felt marginalised on that year’s race, then world champion Mark Cavendish whose ambitions of defending the green points jersey he had won the previous year took second place to supporting Wiggins.

He said: “One day on the bus Cav slipped me a note: ‘No great man ever complains of want of opportunity.’

“I felt Cav was saying: ‘Don’t get to the end and say you didn’t have the opportunity.’”

Froome went on: “I felt that the team weren’t prepared to recognise that I was a potential winner. If I wasn’t allowed to try, accepting that would involve a very significant sacrifice on my part: they hadn’t treated me in the way that had been promised.

“I was in third place now and had my reservations as to how Brad was going to cope when we got to the real mountains”

That 'attack' on Wiggins

It was on Stage 11 of the race to La Toussuire-Les Sybelles that the tension between the pair became public knowledge when Froome made a move that some interpreted as an attack on Wiggins.

“The plan was to scorch the earth again, just as we had done on La Planche des Belles Filles to put Bradley in yellow,” explained Froome. “I suggested that maybe it might be possible for me to attack towards the end of the stage, after I had shepherded Brad almost to the top.

“The response was a frown from team principal Dave Brailsford and a slight unease that the question had been asked. I was used to this hypersensitivity towards Brad’s feelings but Brad was basically two minutes ahead. Today was a day when we could kill off his main rivals, Cadel Evans and Vincenzo Nibali, for him and take another stage.

“I wasn’t putting my hand up and asking if I could help myself to Brad’s Tour or have a weekend away with his wife. I was asking could I go for a stage win, and get myself in a slightly better position.”

Froome recalled how Nibali attacked with 12km of the climb remaining, and how he shut that move down shortly afterwards.

When the Italian attacked again, Froome went past Wiggins in pursuit of Nibali, then overhauled him, with the thought in his head: “Okay, Vincenzo. What have you got now?”

He continued: “It felt electric; pure racing. Brad and I were going to be one and two on GC tonight. Behind me, though, Brad had been dropped by Nibali straight away. [Sports director] Sean Yates was in my ear on the radio. ‘Froomey, Froomey, Froomey. I’m hoping you’ve got the okay from Bradley for that?’

“He was telling me that unless Brad explicitly said I could go, I would be having a spell in the naughty corner. I kept pushing. Then I heard Brad’s voice on the radio.

“’NO-OOO, NO-OOO, NO-OOO.’

“He sounded like a man who had just dropped his oxygen tank near the top of Everest. Brad was folding physically and mentally, and quicker than I had thought possible. I got the feeling that he would literally just get off his bike were I to carry on pushing. What was a simple and perfect plan to me seemed to translate for Brad into a public humiliation.

“I slowed and waited for him. He hadn’t just cracked; I think he felt betrayed. By the time he was back in touch with me, Brad perked up a little. All the same, I knew that by nightfall I would be in the stockades”

Clearing the air with Brailsford

Froome revealed that in the evening, he was summoned to Brailsford’s room and asked what the matter was, and told the team principal that playing a secondary role to Wiggins was not what had been agreed when his contract had been renegotiated the previous September.

In a sign that his attack that day had long been planned, Froome added in his book that he had checked the document with his girlfriend (and now his fiancée) Michelle Cound that morning should he need to refer Brailsford to it following the stage.

He told her: “I’m going to tell him that I have every right to attack on this climb at the end of the stage. I feel fresh. I can do this.”

Brailsford told Froome that with Wiggins in the yellow jersey and the race heading towards its conclusion with only one summit finish and one individual time trial in the stages remaining, the team’s focus was on Wiggins.

Froome countered that his team mate might crash, as had happened in the previous year’s Tour, or fade in the final week, as he had done in the Vuelta, and it therefore made sense for him to be allowed to try and take time from Nibali.

“Dave, the man with a plan for all occasions, said that it was wrong to speak now of ‘what ifs’. These were the facts. We had to work with the facts. So we talked facts. Day one, I punctured. No contingency plan. Fact.

“Dave immediately apologised for that oversight. He was sincere but the point was made. There had been promises made and yet from the puncture to the special lightweight wheels and skewers, which Brad was using exclusively, all had been geared towards Brad. I had thought this was the team that didn’t do oversights.

“Dave said to me: ‘Brad wants to go home. He’s ready to pack his bags and leave the race altogether.’

“I remember thinking: ‘So it’s okay for him to leave and not give anybody else a hand? If he leaves, will I have to carry his bags?’”

At the back of the team bus the following day, with Yates and Brailford in attendance, Froome told Wiggins: “Listen, if you’ve got a problem with me, come straight to me, don’t go round to other people and make the problem worse. Come speak to me and we can sort it out. But it doesn’t help if you go telling Sean, telling Dave, telling everyone else what problem you’ve got or why you’re unhappy. Speak to me about it.”

He said that Wiggins “sort of nodded and muttered a few words.”

A prearranged plan

On the final mountain finish of the race, there were further signs of discord between the pair in the last kilometre when they were the closest two riders in pursuit of stage winner Alejandro Valverde of Movistar, with Froome turning round to gesticulate at Wiggins.

Afterwards, Froome was asked why he didn’t just follow his instincts and ride after the Spaniard.

“I gave the party line. ‘Brad’s in optimum position to win the race, and at the moment he’s poised to win so. . . we’re on track. And no, I’m not going to be attacking or anything like that.’

“I realised, at last, that everything had been geared towards this.

“It was never going to be any different. The story was completed long before we got to France. Bradley wins. The book is written. The documentary is made. The promise is fulfilled. We had just been acting it out,” he added.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

74 comments

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themartincox [466 posts] 1 year ago
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Perfect time to release the book from a commercial point of view with the Tour coming up, but from a team unity point of view? not so much I would say.

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Beaufort [270 posts] 1 year ago
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He is impressive on a bike. As a human being, not so much.

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Flying Scot [908 posts] 1 year ago
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Me me me me me me me me me me me...........what a knob end.

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icbell [2 posts] 1 year ago
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Exactly why not many like him

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levermonkey [642 posts] 1 year ago
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"He is impressive on a bike. As a human being, not so much." Beaufort
"Me me me me me me me me me me me...........what a knob end." Flying Scot
"Exactly why not many like him" Icbell

Wiggins? Froom?  19

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NeilG83 [283 posts] 1 year ago
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One good performance in the Vuelta and Froome wants a contract as team leader.

An illness effected start to the 2012 season and he expects to be team leader at the Tour, whilst Wiggins had been winning every major stage race he entered. Not only that but with the long time trials it was Wiggins' race to lose.

And now he will probably expect Wiggins to help him win the Tour this year after releasing this.

Sky and Wiggins' definitely owed Froome after the 2011 Vuelta and 2012 Tour, but Froome comes across as selfish and egotistical.

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samwstraw [27 posts] 1 year ago
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They both come across really badly here.

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cinelli Dave [10 posts] 1 year ago
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Not ideal time to release this!

How can Froome and Wiggins ride in the same team when it sounds like there is little respect between either of them? Unless the air really has been cleared? Time will tell.

I think Froome needs some better advisers/managers otherwise his public profile will never be what it should be for such a talented athlete.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 1 year ago
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Big babies
 20

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northstar [1108 posts] 1 year ago
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Another distraction story.

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SpooksTheHorse [27 posts] 1 year ago
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What a shame.
Watching wiggins go up the climbs in California I thought "wow he could be a real help to froome, he might just make the tour team". After this that seems pretty unlikely. With froome and Porte both having difficult starts to the season, and none of the other sky riders (save perhaps Thomas) looking on top form, you would have thought keeping the peace would have been in everyone's best interests.

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WolfieSmith [1244 posts] 1 year ago
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Babies? Nahhhhhh. Competitive sportsmen complaining about the competition. I would expect nothing less.

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goggy [153 posts] 1 year ago
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icbell wrote:

Exactly why not many like him

Not many like who - Wiggins or Froome?

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Leviathan [1773 posts] 1 year ago
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The Pot and The Kettle entered a bike race...

I wonder how realistic CF's suggesting that BW would just abandon when in the lead of the Tour just because a team mate attacked him.

Hardly Prost/Senna is it?

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b1rdmn [9 posts] 1 year ago
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This is going to be a really dull book, isn't it? Froome can ride a bike, but is quite boring in everything else... The only thing interesting about him is that he and Wiggo don't get on, which is also getting boring now.  37

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spin sugar [47 posts] 1 year ago
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NeilG83 wrote:

And now he will probably expect Wiggins to help him win the Tour this year after releasing this.
.

If Wiggo goes, yeah, but I suspect that's the last thing Froome wants. I reckon he doesn't want Wiggo anywhere near the race. Agree with your assessment of him and don't think he does himself any favours based on the extracts but maybe he comes over better in the book as a whole...maybe...

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spin sugar [47 posts] 1 year ago
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Think Brad says so in his book (about having wanted to abandon) but, yeah, a very british "feud" !

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NeilG83 [283 posts] 1 year ago
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bikeboy76 wrote:

The Pot and The Kettle entered a bike race...

I wonder how realistic CF's suggesting that BW would just abandon when in the lead of the Tour just because a team mate attacked him.

Hardly Prost/Senna is it?

In his autobiography Wiggins says himself that he thought about leaving the tour.

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lushmiester [170 posts] 1 year ago
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One might just think that Froome is already in negotiation for next season with team ...... Well not sky. Although it is suspected that his current contract runs until the end of 2016

Unless obviously his book is being published with team management blessing, or at least tolerance. Which then asks where could Wiggins future be, with just two seasons before retirement probably not grand tours but curtain classics would perhaps be a reasonable objective.

The other factor to throw into the mix is the Sky sponsorship itself. The teams original 2010 objective was to have a British winner of the TDF with 5 years the implication being that the original sponsorship deal ran for 5 years. It can not be argued that Sky has failed to deliver on it's objectives. Also Wiggins resent win in the Amgen Tour of California is a much needed exposure in a big market. However, this has to be set against it's failure for another year to mount a serious assault on Italy's Giro were some of it's sponsorship comes from.

So how does Sky maintain it's sponsorship and add value to that sponsorship. Yes it has to remain the force to be contended with in the TDF and one week races. So keeping Froome in the medium term may be necessary. However, it also it needs to be a force in the Giro, Vuelta (although I for one have enjoyed they're forced buccaneering in this years edition) and probably increase it's exposure in the one day classics.

The rumored return of Henao and a well Richie Porte may help address the Giro/Vuelta issue, but they are also at sometime going to want their shot at the TDF. So Sky may well also have to bring in one of the up and coming young guns to strengthen they're Grand Tour line up depending on Peter Kennaugh's development.

The classics is a more thorny issue an Sky's achilles heel. This season has shown there is a nucleus there Bradley Wiggins (despite Fabian Cancellara guffaws before Paris Roubaix) , Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas (although he has stated a preference for stage racing) but the line up requires strengthening and the preparation improving.

How did this start... oh yes Froome's book, definitely poor form and something I'll wait until it reaches the charity shops shelves before I read it. As for it's timing before the TDF... umm interesting it would suggest that he is perhaps frightened that he does not have much of a chance this year. As one would assume a launch would be preferable after winning the TDF, although a win might help to clear unsold stock so maybe his publishing strategy is right.

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LinusLarrabee [119 posts] 1 year ago
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Totally understand where Froome is coming from having to play second fiddle to a one-trick-pony with a very questionable temperament. The best rider didn't win the Tour in 2012. If the best rider had been beaten by a drugged up cheat everybody would be up in arms, but being beaten by a management team that didn't have the spine to stand up to Wiggins and his fragile ego is perfectly acceptable because he's a good bloke? The whole thing was a farce - I binned my Sky jersey after that Tour.

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HarrogateSpa [272 posts] 1 year ago
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Experts believe that Froome has been suffering with a chronic case of Kevin Pietersen syndrome.

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dannycarr2k [26 posts] 1 year ago
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From her frequent tweeting and media exposure, I can't help but feel that behind Froome there's an attention-seeking, ambitious Cound egging him on.

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Mickyruff [13 posts] 1 year ago
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Just go back to the 2012 tour, when Froome dropped Wiggins. If he was a dedicated team-mate, who had been told to lead Wiggo up the mountain, he would have kept an eye on Wiggo's front wheel by looking down between his legs as he pedalled........that's how you do it. But no, Froome just sprinted off and then looked round to see where Wiggo was..........playing to the world audience.

Froome lies through his teeth and that's why he is disliked so much. Oh no, there is one person..........Ritchie likes him!

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NeilWyn [3 posts] 1 year ago
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this is pure gold for TdF organisers and media. Inter team rivalry between two of Britains highest profile cyclists before Yorkshire grande depart. Don't think I'll be buying the book though. I admire Chris Froomes bike riding skills, but not his attempts to make money out of selling a book, zzzzz.

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marche [83 posts] 1 year ago
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Imagine: half a day on the saddle, journalists, hotel, massages, debriefing, eating, sleeping, briefing, journalists, transfer, doctors, physio, etc.
and don't forget the possibility of the use of banned performance-enhancing drugs (hiding, smuggling, logistics, doctor).
Tough job - and they both have enough energy left to argue and write books!

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Jimmy Ray Will [439 posts] 1 year ago
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Ok, this saddens me. The timing of this release has to be to derail the significant momentum W Higgins has been generating to get a tour slot.

What really saddens me is that, as mentioned, this release must have had Sky's clearance.

I have always felt that Wiggins treatment by Sky has been far of the mark deserved for Britain's first tour winner.

As for the 2012 tour, it's easy to think Froome wsi best, but actually I think that's questionable. Ok on two occasions he was better on the final climb, but the second of those occasions, Wiggins had theoretically just won the tour, and it looked like a 'can't be arsed' rather than simply couldn't... But everyone forgets the times wheen Froome struggled, and the time he lost in the tt's. Not to even start to look into the psychological advantage Froome had in not bearing the pressure of leadership.

I just hope Froome has the goods to back up the repercussions of this release come July.

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yenrod [106 posts] 1 year ago
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As 1 said above 'its not looking good - for both of them...'

Wiggins book was a bit of a 'I'm a kid' fest.

I suppose you could sum this as;

The other side of the story - and how ugly it is; though sticking to a plan has lost Sky's Thomas the yellow on the Roubaix Steve... back in 2010...

I can see both sides.

Its down to Wiggins to not retort...

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yenrod [106 posts] 1 year ago
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As 1 said above 'its not looking good - for both of them...'

Wiggins book was a bit of a 'I'm a kid' fest.

I suppose you could sum this as;

The other side of the story - and how ugly it is; though sticking to a plan has lost Sky's Thomas the yellow on the Roubaix stage... back in 2010...

I can see both sides.

Its down to Wiggins to not retort...

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marche [83 posts] 1 year ago
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I apologize: Sky don't do dope.
Wait and see…
But above all, don't mention enhancing products anymore.
Keep it quiet! (it could annoy "the sport", the fans, the athletes, the business and the brits).

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domofarmfrites [20 posts] 1 year ago
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Froome was the stronger in most of the 2011 Vuelta and 2012 Tour, despite working for Wiggins. Working for someone else takes up a lot of energy, but Froome was consistantly up there with Wiggins and doubtless was chomping at the bit at times. I like Wiggins, but he can be mentally fragile. I can understand why he was leader - he had a longer spell as a contender and the 2012 Tour suited him. This would explain why the team backed him and with the importance of winning the Tour, I can understand why they protected him 'mentally' and did not want to risk it all for a stage win and then also risk infighting.

I think Froome may suffer from 'Kevin Peterson-itis', which could be summed up as a self-belief in your own talent and will to win which sometimes makes you say or do things impulsively for good or worse. But I think plenty of Brits resent them because they were brought up abroad and show a 'un-British' self belief which is not generally how we like to see our sportsmen. If Froome had a little more self-depreciating humour and was less serious at times, he would probably be more liked by the UK fans, although he would still probably struggle to win the PR war when it came to 'our Bradley vs that Froome'.

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