Chris Froome has ended speculation about his Tour de France participation by confirming the race is his chief target for 2015.
The 2013 champion – who crashed out on stage five of this year’s race – had raised doubts as to whether he would start next year’s edition after an unfavourable course was revealed by organisers ASO in October.
But, now back in training in South Africa having got married and been on honeymoon in the off-season, the 29-year-old is relishing the challenge of adapting for a route heavy on climbing with very little time trialing.
Froome told the team website: “There is no doubt that this Tour de France is going to be a tough test, but I enjoy the challenge and there’s no reason why I would be any worse off than any of the other contenders.
“It is our responsibility as a team to adapt accordingly so that we can be as competitive as possible there.
“It’s a climbers’ Tour next year so I’m going to have to work extra hard in the mountains and spend less time on practicing time trialing.
“It’s also going to be important to be as light as possible, so our nutrition will play a key role. There will be new tests for me as an individual, that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Froome has also confirmed he will not be targeting multiple Grand Tours in 2015, despite a favourable Giro d’Italia route and his previous Vuelta a Espana success, where he was runner-up for the second time in his career this year.
Rival Alberto Contador’s Tinkoff-Saxo team had initially mooted a ‘Three Grand Tours’ challenge to Froome, Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana, but with a mixed reception from the others the plan has been shelved.
Froome said: “The concept of doing all three Grand Tours in a season has got appeal but, having said that, I know how hard it is to do two Grand Tours while targeting the overall win.
“At this point in my career I feel that the Tour [de France] takes priority. There may come a time at some point down the line where other races may take preference, but for 2015, it’s the Tour.
“Of course, together with the team, we’ve had to prioritise some events over others, but the Tour will remain my main focus for 2015.”
As a result, the Kenyan-born Brit – who won the Tour of Oman and Tour de Romandie last season – will embark on some warm weather training before jetting off to Tasmania to ride alongside Richie Porte at the Launceston Cycling Classic.
His 2015 season, meanwhile, is set to kick off at February’s Ruta del Sol – marking an earlier return to action than in the previous two years.
He added: “I’ve enjoyed my time off and now I am concentrating on preparing myself mentally and physically for the season ahead.
“I’ve started training in the warm weather in South Africa where I have been able to get some decent miles in on the bike.”