By Jean-François Quénet in Tarbes
Although it was behind Riccardo Riccó, it was interesting to see Chris Froome attacking in the col d'Aspin in the first stage of the Pyrénées. The Kenyan rookie from Barloworld showed pure climbing skills, giving an indication of the bright future he has and the support he could have given to Juan Mauricio Soler, should the king of the mountains of the previous Tour de France have still been in contention.
When Soler crashed on stage one, Froome waited for him but the Colombian had to pull out three days later due to an injured hand. "It was a big loss and a big disappointment for the team," Froome said during the rest day in Tarbes. "But we had to continue and do our job. Hopefully there's still time to do something with Robbie Hunter, Baden Cooke or Moises Duenas."
"My personal goal is to arrive in Paris and maybe pick a few stages to be up there to help my team-mates," he continued. He had seen the Tour on television but now he's in the middle of it. "For me it's incredible to be here, there's such a huge atmosphere around the race. It really brings out everything you have."
Froome discovered that he liked the Pyrénées. "It wasn't as steep as I expected", he said. "It was great for me. In the col d'Aspin I attacked just to try and see what would happen, but it was still very long with 5km to go to the top." So far, the Tour de France rider who impressed him the most was Jens Voigt. "His ability to work for the team is incredible," Froome said.
He has enjoyed receiving messages from Africa since he started the Tour. "Friends and family in Kenya and South Africa watching the race on TV have been very supportive," he said. After the Tour de France, he will miss the Olympics because Kenya hasn't qualified and their national Olympic committee hasn't released him since he recently took up the nationality of his second passport: from the UK. So he'll have to wait for three years until he becomes eligible for Great-Britain at the world's and the Olympics.