Tour de France leader Chris Froome is often accused of spending too much time looking at his power meter, but he explains that is not what he is doing at all...

Chris Froome‘s elbows-out and head-down riding style is far from graceful, no where near the elegance of Frenchman Warren Barguil or former great Italian Fausto Coppi, but he has his reasons.

Sky’s Tour de France captain in the yellow jersey was not simply looking at his power meter to read his watts or the Rhino paint job on his Pinarello when he chased back after a mechanical on the Coix de Fer and pursued Nairo Quintana on La Toussuire, he was breathing. Relaxing his neck, he said, allows air to flow easier.

“I’m not just staring at my power meter when my head goes down. My gaze is a little bit lower,” Froome explained.

“My neck gets tired. I’ve a very rounded upper back and I find my neck gets tired. I find it’s easier for me to breathe, I can get more oxygen when my head is lower down.”

Froome leads the Tour by 2-38 minutes over Quintana with the final mountain test today up the Alpe d’Huez.

>>> What can we learn from Chris Froome’s power data?

His head will surely look upwards to see the famous climb’s 21 hairpin turns to the ski resort, but also down in his unorthodox way.

His way brought speculation in the past that Froome and Sky race only to the numbers, to watts, cadence and heartrate.

Nibali, who attacked when Froome suffered a mechanical and went on to win the stage yesterday, has been one of Froome’s biggest critics.

>>> Chris Froome confronts Nibali over ‘unsportsmanlike’ Tour de France attack

“Sky has a way of interpreting the race that’s scientific,” Nibali said in 2013 during the Tirreno-Adriatico.

“Some think that SRM [power meter] and team’s cars decide the race. You need to have that capacity to read the race.”

Froome assured followers that he not simply reading his plastic handlebar-mounted power meter box but trying to increase his capacity to win races like the Tour.

Video: Tour de France stage 19 highlights

  • Desbil

    The french jerk did not even bother to stop and take a look at where geraint thomas was thrown into.albeit give a helping hand.A true french gentleman

  • Dave2020

    Thanks for that positive contribution David. If guys on Disqus have nothing better to do than carp and criticise, it would be better for them to post nothing. A naive belief that ‘experts’ are infallible (a notion promoted by the experts themselves!) is a drag on progress. Yes, the ability to “unlearn maladaptive physical habits” is a core factor in getting the best out of yourself.

    I wrote to Team GB in 2009, after riders in their ‘care’ suffered injuries in the gym, but they were too proud of their “world class expertise” to listen to the voice of experience. I was more than forty years ahead of them in using weight training (at the time it was frowned upon), but I had the good sense to build my own gym gear, which eliminated the risks inherent in their dumb methods and matched the strength exercise precisely to pedalling technique. I offered to make one for Manchester (foc) but they thought they knew better.

    Jamie Staff wrote – “I have passed on your email to some coaches, and if some of them feel up to enlightening you . . .” There’s hubris for you. Shortly after that, Jamie’s back injury and premature retirement were made public! In the years since many of our best athletes have been sidelined with injuries, some of which are chronic and problems they have to learn to deal with both during their careers and after.

  • David

    Learn the Alexander Technique. The main principle is a free neck to allow the back to lengthen and widen and support the limbs allowing better coordination. Useful in all sports and everyday life. Relief of backpain Bmj 2009. It sounds like Froome may have discovered primary control and the effect of freeing the neck on breathing and better use of the self.

  • Dave2020

    “I still think I can get much better. There are things I can do to improve. I’m not the smoothest rider. I’m all elbows and knees.” Froome said. “So, I can work on improving my position on the bike.” (2013)

    No visible improvement in two years, so the question must be; Do Team Sky have any idea how to help Chris to “get better”?

    I just offer what I’ve garnered from 50 years experience (of riding and racing with back/breathing problems). Saying nothing helps nobody.

    If you’ve got any better ideas, speak up. Don’t be shy.

  • shezz

    Good thing theres internet know it alls to tell a 2x tdf winner what he’s doing wrong.

  • Dave2020

    I reckon Froome’s ‘stiff neck’ is symptomatic of a deeper problem lower down his back, plus the evident tension across his shoulders. We don’t hear of other riders relaxing their necks in order to breathe more easily.

    Judging from “How to pedal efficiently” (May 22), I suspect a root cause of his (“all stiff through my back”) problem could be that he’s habituated to the technique advocated by Scott Tomkinson, especially the weird bit about “push to the floor”. It looks like Chris may do just that, as his heel can drop too low at 5 o’clock sometimes.

    Scott states categorically that a strong push from the glutes requires a strong back and ‘core’, but another interpretation would be that this technique actually places intolerable stress on your back, so it should only be used sparingly, not as a ‘preferred’ method. It was reported that Kerrison had Wiggins on squats prior to his terrible 2013 season. If Team Sky didn’t learn from that mistake, I doubt they are capable of coaching Froome in properly taking care of his body.

    Chris should use round rings (and a triple, to avoid the cross-chaining seen on Mont Ventoux), as the Osymetric design accelerates the foot through the so-called dead centre, which makes it even more difficult to co-ordinate a smooth transition from ‘pushing down’ to pulling back. With those long thighs, he needs to set his saddle further back. (to learn how to pedal properly!)

  • RobTM

    Bit harsh! Degenkolb was moving across from out wide at high speed, it wasn’t like Bonnet was 1/2 wheeling

  • Fraser

    Nah, Bonnet caused the pile up on stage 3.

  • Erik

    “elegance of Frenchman Warren Barguil”? You mean the clown that drove Geraint Thomas off a cliff? The joker that caused the 35-man pile up on day 3 that took out Cancellara and others? That’s setting the bar pretty low.