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.
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.
“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