July 16, 2014
As I returned from England yesterday I lingered at a bookshop at the airport, as I usually do, and my eye fell on Chris Froome’s biography, "The Climb". I realised only a couple of days ago that he fell in the tour and was forced to give up with a broken wrist. Of course to great disappointment of himself, his crew and many of his supporters, if not all tour-lovers. I remember his story of the 100th Tour de France, last year’s, and how he became second, after Wiggins, during the 99th Tour. He should have finished first, based on his performance, but Wiggins was destined to win and so Froome ended second. Sometimes the real champions do not become champion (unfortunately there is no World Cup every year).
Tendering for proposals can easily be compared to riding a Tour. First of all, you need to bring a good team together with people who have trained together, who trust each other and will support one another, under any circumstances.
Secondly, you need to study the landscape and the competition: Who else is in the course? What does the landscape look like? Where do we need to finish? And then you have to worry about the mountain ahead of you. Once you are over the top you go down in dazzling speed. Braking may be deadly, but you still have to control your speed.
On one occasion young boy Chris had taken off his helmet while descending from the Ngong hills with David Kinjah, his Kenyan rolemodel. He had clipped it onto his handle bars. After a pothole in the road it plunged into the front wheel of the 'Black Lion', which was David’s nickname in Italy. David was launched from his bike and ended on his knees and elbows a few yards down the road. At first they waited for a car to come by, but finally David picked himself together and got back on his bike to find the nearest health post and insisted to cycle home with Froome rather than using the car of Froome’s mother. The next day both of them were back on the road.
What struck me in Froome’s biography was his perseverance which gave him the drive to excel in his sport, which he had learned from a Kenyan cyclist David Kinjah. While training in the Ngong Hills, chasing the 'Black Lion' on a slope down-hill he learned to be second. A lesson he needed that day in Paris with Wiggins.
This story seems romantic with a lot of out-of-Africa, but soon you realise that for Froome, fate makes a strange twist as his father’s tour business goes bankrupt and his mum and dad get into a divorce. Froome changed places many times, which prepared him for being the global nomad he now has become having won the Tour last year. If there is one thing he learned in Africa, it is: champions may fall easily. The questions is not: have you been the fastest? The question is: do you get back on your feet when you fall? And if you fail, you just wait for the next opportunity to arise. Again his fate took a bad twist. Hopefully, it will lead him to other unexpected heights.
My name is Reinier van Hoffen.
Click here for a summary.
Also find the text of a lecture Dr. Achterhuis held at the 2012 Bilderberg conference.