Most of the cycling world was head-slapped when Chris Froome announced that, counter to all conventional wisdom, he would ride both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France next season.
Journalist Caley Fretz nailed it in his commentary over at CyclingTips. His explanation was that either Froome was too greedy or suffering from hubris — which if you need a refresher, means arrogance or excessive self pride. Which also sounds like a perfect definition for Team Sky.
Like most of us, Fretz could simply not begin to fathom why Froome would risk his entrance into the Legends Club, the winners of five Tour de Frances. If he wanted to join Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault, and Indurain, Italy was the wrong direction.
So greed and hubris made made perfect sense as explanations but we’re tempted to tack on a third: foolishness. You’d think with all of Sky’s analytics and sports science, they would have run the numbers and said, bad idea.
It reminds us of when Movistar boss Eusebio Unzue said they had the data to show that Nairo Quintana would only be stronger at the Tour if he rode the Giro first. We all know how bad and embarrassing that decision turned out.
Foolishness seems to cover what greed and hubris left out. As Vincenzo Nibali quickly pointed out, the Giro is famous for variable weather. Variable meaning frozen rain, icy roads, plummeting temperatures and snow. Froome has said he prefers the heat of the Vuelta and he certainly hasn’t spent much time racing in Italy earlier in the season.
The Giro is far more of a crap shoot than the Tour de France, which favors brute strength and team dominance. July in France is way nicer than May in Italy.
So it seems wildly foolish that Froome would jeopardize his shot at cycling immortality in the Tour by wearing himself out in the Giro. Even that extra week is not enough recovery when you’re racing hard for over three weeks in what’s often miserable weather. One bad cold, one terrible crash and his Tour bid goes up in smoke. Only a fool would roll the dice like that.
Fretz makes the strong case that at age 32, Froome is starting to push up against Father Time — and like the Cycling Gods, Mr. Time is not to be disrespected. Should Froome blow his shot at five this season, that ticking clock starts winding down his performance.
Greed, hubris, foolishness. Dumb-ass-ery? Froome wants pink but he’s risking yellow.