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

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.”

Elliot joined team road.cc bright eyed, bushy tailed, and straight out of university.

Raised in front of cathode ray tube screens bearing the images of Miguel Indurain and Lance Armstrong, Elliot's always had cycling in his veins.
His balance was found on a Y-framed mountain bike around South London suburbs in the 90s, while his first taste of freedom came when he claimed his father's Giant hybrid as his own at age 16.

When Elliot's not writing for road.cc two wheels are still his favoured mode of transport; these days over the undulating streets of Madrid.

11 comments

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skivandal [8 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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mikeprytherch [223 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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Jimbonic [136 posts] 2 years ago
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Some Fella wrote:

... poshos ....

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

Thank you

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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?

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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Cool story bro...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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andyp [1448 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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allez neg [497 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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tim_peel [1 post] 2 years ago
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I just can't move past the Kenyan Herbie…bad car  19

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nortonpdj [136 posts] 2 years ago
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We should make him an honorary Yorkshireman at "le grand départ"