I suspect Chris Froome’s account of his rise to cycling success didn’t come out quite as he intended, but that is a boon for the reader because he doesn’t come out of several parts of the book that well.
Central to this is his relationship, or rather non-relationship, with Bradley Wiggins. Froome doesn’t persistently put the boot in, and even at times goes out of his way to stress how the two of them are very different personalities and so were bound to see things differently at times and rub each up the wrong way.
But it is a much less complimentary picture of Wiggins that he paints than that of Wiggins’s own book (no surprise really) or that of general media coverage.
In Froome’s eye Wiggins is a deeply flawed character who was no great team player – and hence Froome’s account of his own occasions when he wasn’t a great team player himself seeks to justify his actions by that wider context. There’s also the perhaps inevitable need for anyone who wishes to rise to the top in a sport with such a strong individual element in it to themselves be very self-centred on their own demands at time.
The outsider has no chance of being able to conclude for sure which of the two of them gets closer to the truth of events involving the pair, but as with Wiggins’s book, this one too is a very enjoyable read along the way and paints a great picture of what it takes to succeed as a professional road racing cyclist. There is also a good touch of humour running through the book, though given the credit inside the book to David Walsh as co-author, it’s not always clear how much of the tone of voice is authentically Chris Froome.
The book also helps explain some of what to an occasional fan of cycling may have seemed strange events, such as why Sky didn’t back Froome to win the 2011 Vuelta, sticking with Wiggins even though Froome ended up finishing ahead of him. Froome’s previous unreliability as painted in this book makes it easy to see why Sky thought he would probably blow it all with one disastrous day once again.
More surprising perhaps is Froome’s criticism of Sky’s management, including David Brailsford, though subsequent events suggest they have managed to work out how to get along.
A good read, especially if accompanied by reading Bradley Wiggins’s own version of events too, and with a much better and bigger selection of photos than many similar books..
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