Now 48 hours ago, we’d have been talking about the odds of his lawyers beating A.S.O.’s lawyers but then the UCI suddenly, inexplicably and without any scientific explanation, caved to Froome. He’s free to race and Tour boss Christian Prudhomme is punching holes in walls.
Legally speaking, we can say that Froome and Team Sky have already won the prologue of Le Grand Shindig. Can he then win the whole thing?
We’re in total agreement with the assessment of Dane Cash at Velonews. As he says, in a pick between Froome and the field, he’s taking the field.
The arguments are straightforward and well-known at this point — the extreme difficulty of the Tour-Giro double, a stronger than usual list of rivals, the negative impact of nine or ten months of accumulated stress from his salbutamol adverse finding, his advancing age (33), his less than dominant victory in last year’s Tour and his lack of any prep race after winning the Giro. Ohh, and like everyone else who hopes to win, he’s one teammate short this year.
To that we might add what we expect to be less than enthusiastic roadside fans. It would not surprise me if things got ugly on a climb or two and if I were Froome, I’d be wearing a helmet with an integrated visor. He’s going to get doused with all sorts of liquids and dodging projectiles.
Honestly, we can’t add much to Cash’s logic except for perhaps a cosmic reason Froome won’t win. He’s dodged plenty of bullets in his career (several crashes in the Tour that could have been way worse) along with beating the odds on his salbutamol case and generally having impeccable luck in every grand tour from Italy to Spain. While his Giro attack on stage 19 on dirt road climbs was bold and ballsy, luck also played into his hands that day.
All that said, it’s about time for his luck to run out. If we are to believe in the existence of the Cycling Gods, you’d have to think that at this point, they’d be looking down and thinking yeah, enough is enough. Now, we made the same statement before last year’s Tour and Froome once again proved us wrong. Still, there’s no doubt he’s overdue for serious misfortune — a bad crash, serious illness, misplaced inhaler, something.
It’s going to be a helluva Tour de France and we just don’t see Froome on the top step. An outcome that will make France happy and Bernard Hinault ecstatic.