Pity Chris Froome. The Sky leader is living life through the looking glass, forced into extracurricular activities to prove his innocence, like an A-grade student given detention, while his classmates race home as the school bell rings.
Froome Minor will spend part of his holiday in a fashion familiar to other hot-housed prodigies, sweating in a laboratory, carrying out extra tests while his peers enjoy the long hot summer.
Taking time from his exertions at GlaxoSmithKline’s Human Performance Lab only to Tweet a pledge to share his results, Froome put a brave face on an uncomfortable situation.
“Suspect,” his self-appointed masters had tutted, regarding his Tour exam, which, while enough to put him top of the class, was far from perfect. Classmates Nibali and Quintana recorded better scores on the third part of the test, yet while they play in the sunshine, Froome Minor settles down to more work.
Perhaps this is the swot’s lot. Froomey CIRC-ed while the others shirked, and called for more masters on the school trip to Tenerife, while the other boys were happy to play unsupervised.
No one likes a teacher’s pet, least of all the playground bullies, made brave by their number, courageous in their anonymity. Name calling is their time honoured tradition, wonderfully refreshed by Twitter.
Froome might have learned a trick from cool kid Wiggins, who faced them down, swore back at them, dropped the mic and stormed out. “C*nts,” he called them. They never bothered him again.
Should we blame the parents? ‘Dave’ is as modern as they come, but might this whole situation have been better handled with an old fashioned display of loyalty: a statement along the lines of “No data from our Chris 'til they all share data. This team’s like faaaamily," in the style of Ray Winstone, perhaps?
Instead, Team Sky and Froome will attempt to appease social media’s insatiable innuendo merchants and a mainstream media happy to accuse by proxy (“Chris Froome has responded to allegations on social media…”): bedfellows in a post-Lance, new world order where Tour winners are guilty until proven innocent.
Perhaps the only way for Froome to satisfy his accusers is to flunk the next test. La Vuelta would be a high price to pay, but might spare him from spending more spare time in London laboratories.
STAT’S THE WAY, UH HUH, UH HUH
4 – the top quartet from the Tour ready to roll out for the Vuelta
2 - the number of riders to record a Tour-Vuelta ‘double’ (Anquetil 1963, Hinault 1978)
2 – the number of Tour winners retired from ProTeams in 2015/16 (Evans, Wiggins)
Spanish songstress’ paen to mystery cyclist in league with Shimano. Mysterious.
Froome and Contador go mano a mano on La Farrapona
Father Ted-style highlights package of the 1988 Vuelta. “Sean Kelly is the champion supreme.”