Press Centre

Sports Life Stories

  • Episode: 

    2 of 8

  • Title: 

    Chris Froome
  • Transmission (TX): 

    Tue 24 Feb 2015
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    10.00pm - 11.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 09 2015 : Sat 21 Feb - Fri 27 Feb
  • Channel: 

The information contained herein is strictly embargoed from all press, online and social media use, non-commercial publication, or syndication until Tuesday 17 February 2015.
Sports Life Stories
Featuring top names from Olympic gold medalists to Champions League winners, the award-winning Sports Life Stories series focuses on the lives of iconic sporting figures.
Each of the eight episodes in this returning series tells the tale of a sporting legend, allowing each individual to open up about their careers and personal lives, and giving a vivid insight into how the impact of their achievements can reach into people's lives.
This series features:
Footballer Peter Shilton
Cyclist Chris Froome
Athlete Paula Radcliffe
Footballer Andy Cole
Athlete Linford Christie
Footballer John Barnes
Rugby player Jason Robinson
Boxer Carl Froch
Contributions from well-known friends and admirers illuminate the lives and work of the subjects and provide a close view into what drives them to succeed in their careers.
Episode 2 -  Chris Froome
“Cycling is a brutal sport. People only remember the winner. Second place, third place, fourth place, it almost counts for nothing in cycling. People turn themselves inside out for each other, and they don’t even get a mention.” - Chris Froome
In the second episode of this new series, British cyclist Chris Froome talks to Ned Boulting about his upbringing in Africa and his illustrious career, including his famous Tour de France victory in 2013.
With contributions from his team boss Sir Dave Brailsford, journalist David Walsh, team-mates and friends, this programme follows Chris on training rides, relaxing at home in Johannesburg, and on a visit to his old school to trace his journey from the townships and mud tracks of Nairobi to the streets of Paris, where he became only the second British winner of the Tour.
Chris speaks candidly about his parents’ divorce and how he subsequently became extremely close to his mother Jane, whose family were originally from Gloucestershire.
He says: “It's difficult to understand why Mum and Dad are obviously fighting the whole time. For a few years I'd get this sort of sick feeling when I'd hear people raise their voices.”
Chris began cycling in his birthplace Kenya but took it up more seriously after starting boarding school in South Africa. He recalls setting up an ‘import business’ while at school to pay for his race fees.
"Occasionally I'd stop by the liquor store and pick up a few bottles of something or some cigarettes and keep the guys happy.”
His upbringing in Africa gave him a unique worldview, says Sir Dave Brailsford.
“It’s quite interesting to try and put yourself in Chris Froome’s shoes and stop and see the world through his eyes, as it is out of the ordinary really. He quite often would sit down and tell stories about being chased by rhinos and all these crazy things most of us find hard to relate to, unless you’ve been down to Chester Zoo.”
He caught the eye of cycling aficionados while competing for Kenya in the Under-23 World Championships in Salzburg, Austria in 2006, where he crashed spectacularly into a race official. Before long, Chris had turned professional and joined the Barloworld team. But in 2008, his world fell apart after his mother died from cancer, while he was riding in a week-long race in Spain.
He says: “I got a call from from [my brother] Jeremy saying that she had had a heart attack and passed away that morning. It felt as if my world had come tumbling down hearing that news and I felt as if I was just a million miles away riding a bicycle. I hadn't even been home for over a year, I hadn't been back to see her and I just felt terrible. She was definitely my biggest supporter and I wish she could have been around a bit longer to see how things have gone since then.”
Chris rode in his first Tour De France just two weeks after his mother's death, where he recorded a top 100 finish, a performance which led him to be signed by Team Sky. After an early struggle with the tropical blood disease bilharzia, his performances dramatically improved, most notably at the 2011 Vuelta a Espana.
Riding in support of team leader Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris outperformed his teammate and finished second to Spaniard Juan Jose Cobo. But many, like David Walsh, felt he should have won the race, and that his team failed to back him until it was too late.
He says: "The team’s inability to see that Chris was the man in the 2011 Vuelta robbed the team and Chris of a Grand Tour. He should have certainly won that race."
Chris also speaks candidly about an incident in the 2012 Tour De France. Having lost time on the first stage to a puncture he hoped to regain lost time on the eleventh stage as the race went through the Alps, and rode away and isolated team leader and eventual winner Sir Bradley Wiggins, before being called back on the team radio.
He says: "I attacked. But only ten seconds later to have [Team Sky sporting director] Sean Yates come onto the radio. I think he was going, ‘Froomey, Froomey, I hope you got permission from Brad to do that!’ A second later I heard Brad on the radio also going, ‘No, no, no, no.’ And at that point I just thought, ‘Okay, whoa.’...It just wasn't a nice feeling in the team. And I think everyone just wanted to get the job done and get to Paris."    
Having finished second in the 2012 Tour De France, speculation about who would lead the team at the next Tour continued into 2013. In May 2013, Bradley Wiggins pulled out with a knee injury and Chris, the new team leader, went on to win the Tour by more than four minutes.
He describes his feelings now: “I wake up in the morning, I blink a few times and I think hang on, I managed to win the Tour De France. There's nothing to say I'll ever win the Tour De France again."
Chris crashed out of the 2014 Tour, but plans to ride again this year.
He says: “I would like people to remember me as the cyclist who raced with heart. I started off on a mountain bike down the Rift Valley just outside Nairobi and to have gone from there to winning the Tour de France in such a short period of time, I’d like to think that it could serve to inspire a lot of youngsters to do the same.”