Chris Froome's first cycling mentor David Kinjah today paid tribute to the "focus and dedication" of the Tour de France champion.
Froome met Kinjah, a professional cyclist in Kenya, when his mother took him to his first organised race at the age of 12.
Kinjah quickly became Froome's mentor and they trained together, mountain biking in the rural highlands north of Nairobi.
For the last three weeks Kinjah has been following Froome's progress in arguably the world's most gruelling sporting event after buying a satellite television package and recording every stage of the Tour.
Kinjah said: "Even though we don't see each other so much any more he has lived my dreams. He is wearing the yellow jersey every day and I almost felt like I was wearing it myself."
Kinjah remembers Froome, who was born in Kenya after his grandparents emigrated there from Gloucestershire to run a crop farm, as a fun-loving teenager who loved riding bikes.
"My first impression of Chris Froome was just another young kid whose parents wanted to pay me some money to teach their boy," said Kinjah.
"But soon I found out that Chris was just a poor white boy, his mother wasn't rich and we had not agreed on any money to pay me. And soon when we started to be friends, I never charged his mother any money because Chris was quickly becoming one of us and he loved to be in the village with us.
"He was like one of us, our brother. He was just funny and happy, a white boy who accepted our village and ate our food."
Kinjah revealed he was doubtful at first whether Froome had the temperament to be a champion racer, but the resolve and determination of the 28-year-old who has dominated this year's Tour eventually shone through.
"At the beginning he was just determined to have fun," said Kinjah, who was speaking on Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme.
"I was a bit scared at the beginning that I would be pushing him a bit harder and I did wonder if he would be strong enough in the head because he was lean and growing tall and he didn't look strong or anything, but soon after you saw the dedication.
"He would want to complete each and every training ride and he wouldn't stop. If he decided he wanted to complete the whole 100km he would do exactly that. No matter how much pain or how many hours he went through he would keep riding to the end."
Kinjah believes cycling success, however, comes down to money.
Asked if Froome's success could spark an African winner of the Tour de France, he said: "It's all about funding, these things don't just happen.
"Maybe if Chris had not changed his citizenship to British he would not be winning the Tour.
"We have talent here(Kenya) but we need to find out how to fund them and how to keep them having a little money in their pocket so that they can have hope also for their families who are poor, and then we can talk about the next Chris Froome."
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