Chris Froome says pain on Mont Ventoux nothing compared to teenage harpoon injury

TdF champ reflects on trials he met on journey to wearing yellow on the Champs-Elysées

by Elliot Johnston   November 20, 2013  

Chris Froome celebrates winning the 2013 Tour de France (picture copyright Simon Wilkinson:SWpix.com)

Chris Froome, team-mate and runner-up to Sir Bradley Wiggins in the 2012 Tour de France and emphatic champion in 2013, has shed light on how he copes with the pain of Grand Tour mountain stages in a reflective interview with the BBC.

Reminiscing about a harpoon-related accident that took place on Christmas Day in 2001, Froome told the BBC that the pain he felt then makes “temporary pain when climbing a mountain stage like Ventoux seem pretty insignificant.”

By the time of the accident, in 2001, Froome had been riding competitively in Kenya for three years. In his own words, had become “fixed on bikes”. So, to support his training, he went for a pre-Christmas-lunch run on the beach.

"As I ran I sort of stumbled, and suddenly I'm stuck in the beach.” Froome said. “It was a harpoon, half buried in the sand, and I'd trodden right on it. I sat there and tried to get the harpoon out, but it was wedged so deep. There was a barb on it too, so I couldn't just pull it out."

After managing to snap the shaft of the harpoon in half with the help of a passer-by, Froome made his way to a near-by clinic where the damage was assessed.

"The old chap there looked at it and told me there was no way we could pull it out, because it would do too much damage.” Froome said. “We'd have to cut it out, from the middle of my foot up to my toes. He just took a razor blade and cut open my foot. I sat there watching him do it.

"Not a nice way to spend Christmas. But we still had a good lunch. And it does make temporary pain when climbing a mountain stage like Ventoux seem pretty insignificant."

The harpoon incident at 16 hasn’t been Froome’s only encounter with hugely painful, career threatening issues.

Later in the interview, Froome, winner of an Olympic bronze medal behind Wiggins at London last year,  talked about his struggle with the debilitating parasitic disease bilharzia which, among other things, can cause an allergic reaction to latex.

He has been battling with the condition, which gets worse in hot, humid conditions, like the ones that cyclists face in Grand Tours, since joining Team Sky

Froome referred to the medication that he takes to treat it as “pretty nasty pills which kill everything in your system, good and bad.”

But the Tour de France winner, who fought back to win his first ever competitive event after being knocked off his bike by his own mother’s car, has a determination that even his fiancée Michelle Cound is in awe of.

“He’s the most stubborn person I know.” Cound told the BBC after their interview with Froome was done. “He’s just so focused on what he wants, and he’ll do anything to get there.”

11 user comments

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Knew he was tough. Especially enjoyed his interview at his old college, where he talked about his love of rugby, and the associated problems that has when the others boys you are playing against are north of 100kg.

skivandal's picture

posted by skivandal [9 posts]
20th November 2013 - 20:42

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I think he is pure class, handles himself well off the bike and even better on it, can't wait to see him in Yorkshire this year.

posted by mikeprytherch [175 posts]
20th November 2013 - 21:06

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Good article that.
I think its easy to romanticise about poor kids battling adversity and struggling to reach the top but the thing about Froome is that he came from privilege and could easily have coasted through but its clear he is a grafter and despite his privileged background does not have that air of entitlement that many poshos have.

posted by Some Fella [622 posts]
20th November 2013 - 21:13

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Some Fella wrote:
... poshos ....

Sorry, but that made me smile! Just the word: "poshos".

Thank you

Big Grin

Back to the article, though. He's been telling some good stories about how he got into cycling. Interesting. I love that he won his first race (was it his first?), despite his MUM knocking him off - classic! I've got a great mental image of an over-enthusiastic lady shouting madly, whilst driving some dusty jalopy. Given his background, it was unlikely to have been as beaten up as in my brain-picture. But, you've got to give yourself artistic licence, haven't you?

posted by Jimbonic [90 posts]
20th November 2013 - 21:37

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Cool story bro...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

posted by northstar [945 posts]
20th November 2013 - 23:48

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Even here, in this interview, the BBC have to weasel word their phrasing.

I very much doubt that Chris Froome's mum's car made a conscious decision to knock him off like some sort of Kenyan Herbie.

posted by farrell [1037 posts]
21st November 2013 - 9:49

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Yep, a tough guy and big respect to him. As others have said, he comes from affluence and could've taken an easy route but instead is a determined character who has opted to challenge himself. I don't want to think how much it hurt having a harpoon end stuck in his foot and then having the medic cut open his foot to get it out - just thinking about that makes me wince. And as for the bilharzia, I know that's an extremely debilitating disease. It's incredible he's alive to be honest, let alone a top athlete.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1963 posts]
21st November 2013 - 10:17

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'He’s just so focused on what he wants, and he’ll do anything to get there'

Hmmm. Reminds me of someone else.

posted by andyp [637 posts]
21st November 2013 - 11:02

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So, if he's doing what you're alluding to then the rest of Team Sky (incl Wiggo and presumably Cav last year in 2012) are surely doing it too.

posted by allez neg [411 posts]
21st November 2013 - 11:15

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I just can't move past the Kenyan Herbie…bad car Devil

posted by tim_peel [1 posts]
23rd November 2013 - 10:27

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We should make him an honorary Yorkshireman at "le grand départ"

posted by nortonpdj [10 posts]
23rd November 2013 - 10:49

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