During his recent visit to South Africa multiple Tour de France winner Chris Froome spent time with his long-time friend Alex Pavlov, who said he was astounded by the intensity of the Briton’s training regime.
Pavlov, a veteran (35-39) rider currently living in Johannesburg, said he and Team Sky’s Froome go back some 15 years when they used to race for a minor SA academy team, Hi-Q.
The 36-year-old Pavlov said while he was finishing his semi-professional career, Froome, now 33, was starting his amateur career, before eventually making it to the highest level of the sport.
He said they had remained friends and Froome usually came to SA for a training block due to the altitude in Johannesburg and the good weather.
Pavlov said Froome, who was born in Kenya to British parents but went to high school and university in SA, would usually look him up and they would train together and catch up.
“Chris usually enjoys training with other people, firstly because of the company and secondly because of his specific training methods,” Pavlov told In the Bunch today.
Thomas, according to Pavlov, was quoted as saying in media reports that “a two weeks’ training camp with Chris was harder than any Grand Tour I’ve ever done”.
“He [Froome] trains like a machine,” Pavlov said. “He trains really, really hard.
“What normally happens with me is that I will ride as far as I can and once I get dropped I can hang onto the car until Chris eases off.”
Froome’s teammate, Salvatore Puccio, joined him in his off-season training routine this time round.
Due to his full-time work commitments, Pavlov said he was only able to train with Froome for a few days while he was in the country.
This, he said, explained why the Team Sky rider usually brought a teammate along with him.
“He’s normally here between two weeks and a month and does very specific training, which even I, on a good day, cannot help with,” Pavlov quipped.
“He wants to train with people to make it harder for himself. Even on rest days he does intervals.
“But every single day he rides on very specific intervals and wattages. He even has specific recoveries.
“Chris told me there’s no regular ride in his training and that every single ride he does has a purpose. According to what he does today [that] determines the programme he’ll do tomorrow.”
Froome and Pavlov became close friends originally due to them both having similar strengths and being good at time-trialling.
While remaining friends, Pavlov said his days as a competitive cyclist ended almost as Froome’s career really started to take off.
“He moved on to bigger and better teams, while I decided to hang up my bike [as a semi-professional].”
Pavlov, who was born in Russia before relocating to SA when he was nine, remarked on how humble Froome was, despite being one of the most successful cyclists in the modern era.
“He’s just a guy who loves riding his bike. He’s probably one of the most down-to-earth guys you’ll ever meet.
“He’s not this four-time Tour de France winner with a big head; he’s just a normal guy.”
He added that he and Froome often hung out socially as well and spoke about various topics outside of cycling.
With the 2019 season imminent, Pavlov said Froome has strong ambitions to win his fifth Tour in July.
Froome and his team will commence their season in a Colombian stage race from February 12 to 17.
Pavlov, on the other hand, began his preparations in November for the national road champs taking place from February 7 to 10.