‘Hunger, ability & collective excellence’ The reasons behind Chris Froome’s success
Chris Froome became the first Briton to win the Tour de France twice when he safely reached the finish line in Paris at the end of the three-week race. This historic achievement by the 30-year-old Team Sky rider has not come without its physical, mental and emotional stresses. This year’s race proved particularly difficult as Froome faced abuse from spectators and accusations of doping.
We asked Chartered Psychologist Steven Sylvester and author of ‘Detox Your Ego’.
“It’s Chris’s hunger, passion and dedication to the sport that led him to his success on Sunday” Sylvester replied. “Winning the Tour de France in the first place is an extremely unbelievable achievement but to do it twice is unprecedented for a British rider. His profound dedication and commitment to representing the yellow jersey in the right way is truly remarkable,” he continued. It is clear that Froome is undoubtedly an extraordinarily talented sportsman, but is this the sole factor for his victory? “No” replied the psychologist. “Froome has a complete alignment between his physical ability, mind-set and the utmost support from Team Sky.” Sylvester believes it is this unique blend that fuels his ability to cope with the abuse from spectators and alleged doping accusations. Amongst being spat on and verbally abused during the later stages of the race, Froome was forced to repeatedly protest his innocence after doping accusations from one French Physiologist.
In a recent interview with the BBC, Froome spoke out on the topic: “The yellow jersey is very special. I will always respect it and never dishonour it.” Froome and Team Sky responded to the accusations by not only releasing the requested numbers but Froome also announced that he wants to become an ambassador for ‘clean cycling’. “To me this represents the cyclists deeper purpose,” Steven puts forward. “Froome is not riding for his own gain but to represent a new ‘clean’ face of the sport on a global platform.” Indeed, after the case of Lance Armstrong, the world of cycling has been shrouded in controversy and Sylvester believes Froome’s strive to amend cycling’s reputation only adds to his determination to perform at his best. “Froome wants to use his position to help restore the image of the sport worldwide,” he concluded.
To add to this, Sylvester deems the ‘collective excellence’ of Team Sky as a pivotal factor in their well-deserved victory in France. Under Sir David Brailsford, Team Sky has produced the most effective line-up in their five-year history. In an interview with Sky Sports, Brailsford said, “It is the best team I’ve ever worked with.” Yet Sylvester distinguishes that this is not the most significant statement, rather Brailsford’s reference to the “willingness of the world-class Team members to sacrifice everything in order to help Chris win.”
Steven says, “This represents a phenomenal shared mind-set that this team have embraced. By prioritising selfless performance, individual riders were able to operate completely without ego. They ‘get out of the way of themselves’ and subsequently put Team Sky’s interest first.” A role that Chris himself has played, coming second after Bradley Wiggins in the 2012 Tour de France, he understands the importance of sacrificing for his teammates.
However his victory this year has not provoked any selfishness: In TV interviews after the race he admitted being saddened by the fact that it was only he who could stand on the podium. Chris believes all the members of Team Sky are equally deserving of recognition for his achievement. “This is testament to Sir Dave’s realignment of the team after their less successful race last year” Steven says. “His skill in understanding how to create constructive tension with his senior management team is a critical factor in enabling the team to reduce self interest. It is clear that his leadership ability to transform ego has been key to their success.