NAIROBI, Kenya – Kenyan riders in yellow jerseys stood with their arms held high and fists clenched in triumph on Sunday in Nairobi. One performed a risky handstand on his bike in an acrobatic celebration along the dusty streets of Chris Froome’s home city.
Members of Froome’s first cycling club lifted their sodas and beers and cheered as they watched the Kenya-born Froome on television toast his current team with a glass of champagne during the Tour de France’s final stage in Paris.
The riders from the Safari Simbaz club stamped their feet on the wooden floors to celebrate Froome’s first Tour win.
“For his great achievement, we are going to a have a great party with a ride through the routes Froome loved to trek in while he was in Kenya,” said David Kinjah, his first cycling mentor. “Chris Froome’s victory has energized us.”
Even before the largely ceremonial last stage Sunday when Froome clinched the Tour title at the Champs-Elysees, hundreds of Kenyan riders had already celebrated with a procession of their own through Nairobi. Thousands of miles from Paris, about 300 cyclists followed the parade led by the dreadlocked Kinjah in a yellow shirt. He helped Froome, then a skinny schoolboy, ride the hills just outside the city.
Some of the celebrating riders, like Kinjah, wore helmets, sunglasses and sleek cycling clothes. Others just wore shorts and sneakers. All were smiling.
“It is not a race guys, OK?” Kinjah said. “We are just celebrating the yellow jersey.”