While many people dismiss the BBC’s annual Sports Personality of the Year award as irrelevant fluff, others see it as a mark of distinction not only for the individual that wins it, but for their sport as a whole.
Froome was absent from the list of nominees in 2016, despite winning the Tour de France for a third time and claiming a bronze medal in the Rio Olympics. Perhaps predictably, the list of nominees was dominated by those who had won gold in Rio – and the eventual winner, Andy Murray, was not only an Olympic gold medallist but won Wimbledon too.
It would have been upsetting for the cycling world to have not seen Froome’s name on the list for 2017, after he achieved the feat of not only winning the Tour de France for a fourth time, but also going on to claim the overall victory in the Vuelta a España.
This Grand Tour double is significant not only for a British rider, but also internationally and in history. Froome is among a very small list of riders to have ever claimed four or more Tour titles (five riders) and an even smaller list who have claimed both the Tour and Vuelta in the same calendar year (three).
The 32-year-old is the first British rider to have won the Vuelta in the race’s long history.
It’s hard to see Froome topping the Tour-Vuelta double, so this is his best chance yet of grabbing the SPOTY award at his third time of nomination, having previously made the shortlist in 2013 and 2015.
Watch: Best of the 2017 Tour de France
Froome’s sporting achievements cannot be viewed in isolation when it comes to SPOTY, of course. The public vote has been swayed as much, if not more, by a nominee’s popularity than their results sheet. And the quietly-spoken rider’s popularity is increasing as his wins mount up and his media coverage has increased.
What may play against Froome is the involvement of his team, Sky, and British Cycling in the on-going jiffy bag furore. However, Froome played no part in that and has been distant from the investigation into Sky and BC. But merely by association, perhaps, the voting public view cycling as a tainted sport – more so than when they voted for Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish in previous editions.
And then there is who Froome is up against: there’s no denying that heavyweight boxing world champion Anthony Joshua, Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and 10,000 metre running world champion Mo Farah are household names, and are already firmly in the public’s minds.
Bookmaker Paddy Power has Froome in third in its odds behind Joshua and Hamilton, and the bookies have in the past proven to be pretty accurate when it comes to predicting SPOTY winners.
Froome could add a world-record equalling fifth Tour title in 2018, and perhaps even win the Giro d’Italia too, but realistically this year is his best chance of grabbing the SPOTY award.
The 2017 BBC SPOTY Awards take place on Sunday, December 17, at the Echo Arena in Liverpool are are broadcast live on BBC One. The full list of 2017 nominees is: Chris Froome, Mo Farah, Lewis Hamilton, Elise Christie, Anthony Joshua, Harry Kane, Johanna Konta, Jonnie Peacock, Adam Peaty, Jonathan Rea, Anya Shrubsole and Bianca Walkden.