A colourful backstory, battles with alcoholism, a love of all things mod and a common touch – Sir Bradley Wiggins’ Tour de France win in 2012 was a much acclaimed affair.
Wiggins was seen as a hero for his achievements and the poster boy for British cycling at a time when the sport needed a hero following the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.
Wiggins’ victory was a historic one, becoming the first Briton to claim the much-coveted Tour title. That, coupled with his Olympic gold in London that same year, catapulted him to stardom and led to him being honoured with a knighthood.
Since then Wiggins’ compatriot Chris Froome has gone one better, claiming the 2013 title and, last week, becoming the first Briton to win the Tour twice. A phenomenal achievement.
Why then is Froome’s victory not greeted with the same fanfare? Why hasn’t it captured the imagination of the British public?
Froome has had to deal with unsubstantiated allegations of doping, something he vehemently denies, with the 30-year-old even being spat at and jeered by some spectators on his way to victory.
Maybe it’s because some view Froome as an outsider, not the archetypal British hero.
Froome, who resides in Guernsey, is Kenyan born and South African raised, qualifying to represent Britain through his father and grandparents. He isn’t the working class boy done good from Britain’s industrial heartland that usually whips up sport-mad Brits into a frenzy. We love an underdog.
Not being born in Britain isn’t an obstacle to adulation from the public. Wiggins himself was born in Belgium, Mo Farah was born in Somalia, tennis player Laura Robson hails from Australia and Britain’s most successful gymnast, Beth Tweddle, was born in South Africa.
But Froome’s has failed to win the hearts of the public, with his unprecedented success passing without the credit that it truly deserves.
He has been installed as the bookmakers favourite to scoop the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award later this year, but I remain unconvinced that, given it is down to the hands of the voting public, that he will be successful. He’s not a Bradley Wiggins or a Chris Hoy.
Froome can seem aloof, and maybe that is where the problem lies. But, whatever route he has taken to get to this point he achieved his success representing Britain. Maybe it’s time we should recognise that fact.