People watching Sky’s Chris Froome at the Tour de France couldn’t help but notice his emaciated frame. While top climbers are all thin, Froome appeared exceptionally skeletal.
Now it appears that management at Team Sky is concerned that Froome may have become “too Rasmussen.” The reference is to the dangerously skinny frame of Danish climber Michael Rasmussen, known by his nickname the Chicken.
“Obvious, it’s a concern. Chris is terribly thin and the weight issue seems to have become something of an obsession,” said Nigel Hudwink, a former member of Sky’s sports science group. “Rasmussen was a freak and they don’t want Froome headed in that direction.”
According to Hudwink, the team has gone as far as discussing diet with Froome’s girlfriend Michelle Cound. “She is very involved in Chris’ life at the moment and is quite focused on helping Chris get to the highest level,” said Hudwink. “We’ve talked to her about nutritional adjustments. Perhaps a hamburger once a week, that sort of thing.”
Froome has been vocal in stating his aim to win the 2013 Tour de France, having finished second to teammate Bradley Wiggins in this years’ edition. Staying lean has been a priority but nobody wants to see another Rasmussen.
“It’s horrifying, really. Rasmussen always looked like he’d just spent two years in a Nazi concentration camp,” said Hudwink. “Sky is very media savvy and it’s not particularity photogenic to look at a skeleton.”
Some observers have suggested that Froome has flipped the Sky dictum of “marginal gains” and become driven by the idea of marginal losses. “You look at his chest, his arms, his face and you begin to worry,” said Theirry Sourire, a nutritional consultant for several WorldTour teams. “There is a point of no return with weigh loss and the effects are often psychological. Look what happened to Rasmussen. He went crazy.”
Sky is monitoring the Froome weight situation but the team has also been distracted by other events. Thanks to their zero tolerance policy on doping, the team has lost high profile leaders such as Sean Yates, Bobby Julich and Steven de Jongh.
With the Tour de France over eight months away, there is no reason to panic over Froome’s Rasmussen-like behavior. “It’s the off-season. They will sit Chris down and bring him some high calorie, quality fat meals,” said Hudwink. “Brailsford can be quite persuasive. If he tells Chris they won’t want him looking like Rasmussen, then you can be sure we won’t have a second Chicken on our hands.”