Froome's racing return to Africa

Watch the first African-born Tour de France champion return to race on his home continent for the first time since his youth on GCN+

Clock22:32, Monday 19th June 2023

The Tour of Rwanda operates in a special place in cycling. It is a project that has a high approval rating, but has yet to pick up steam in terms of international standing. Every February a couple of teams from Europe venture to the high-altitude East African country in search of form, experience and UCI points. Rarely do the big names eschew the appointments in Argentina and Australia for Africa. Until this year.

In February Chris Froome ventured back to his home continent to race in the Tour du Rwanda and to participate in a local initiative funded, in part, by Israel Premier-Tech owner Sylvan Adams. We at GCN+ had the pleasure to tag along for the trip which has become the subject of the new documentary Froome: Back to Africa which chronicles the former four-time Tour de France champ’s return to his cycling roots through the early season competition.

Yet, Froome: Back to Africa is also so much more. It truly unpacks all the ups and downs of the past four years since his career-altering crash in the lead into the 2019 Tour de France.

Before the crash Froome was an inevitably dominating force. As the leader of the Team Sky superteam, he was cocooned within a phalanx of support riders and PR staff that made him have an alienating air about him to many outside fans. Quotes were short. His personality was shielded. His legs did the talking. After his crash, his legs couldn’t quite talk the same and the cycling world's perspective of the man and the cyclist has had to morph since.

In this documentary, what is insightful is to see both the man and cyclist comfortable in the metamorphosis that he has gone through in the last three seasons.

“It's just been part of my personality that I don’t generally give up on things, but I think actually enjoying what I do makes a real difference,” Froome said in the documentary about his desire to continue cycling. “If I was in it for other reasons or not actually enjoying what I am doing now, I don’t think I could carry on when I am at the back of the race fighting to sometimes just make the time cut.”

Through the documentary, the sense that Froome is adjusting to his new life as an elder statesman of the peloton seems to crystallise. Away from the media scrums of the big European races and the tightly defined news cycles that are built around them, Froome – with the help of his bombastic team owner Adams – had room to speak on the more nuanced aspects of his return from his injury. Those conversations were all interspersed neatly within the story of Froome experiencing a whole new racing dynamic in a new country.

In the face of recent news, Froome’s aptitude to racing might have changed slightly after his exclusion from the 2023 Israel Premier-Tech Tour de France team. Nevertheless, if this documentary and his recent interview with GCN is any indication, Froome is far from done with the sport.

Be sure to check out the trailer for Froome: Back to Africa here and then subscribe to GCN+ to see the full documentary, as well as countless other films and races from across the globe and the cycling world.

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