Chris Froome has denied himself thoughts of winning the Tour de France to focus on getting the job done.
The 28-year-old, who has enjoyed an almost flawless preparation for cycling’s biggest race, which starts in Corsica on June 29, believes he is entering his prime.
Froome, who has already won the Tour of Oman, the Tour de Romandie, the Criterium International, and the Criterium du Dauphine, will start the race as joint favourite with two-time winner, Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff).
“I did start thinking about winning the race but quickly stopped myself,” he said. “I don’t think it’s something I should spend too much time thinking about.
“If I do find myself in that position, then I’ll start thinking about it. For now I’m just focusing on the racing aspect and just focusing on getting there.”
Froome said he would be “ecstatic” if he won a single Tour, a contrast with a recent comment made to the Sunday Times that he would seek multiple victories in cycling’s greatest race.
“For now we’re going to focus on this one coming up and hopefully give it everything,” he said yesterday.
Team Sky has yet to announce its Tour de France squad, but Paris-Nice winner, Richie Porte, and super domestiques, Rigoberto Uran, Dario Cataldo, and Vasil Kiryienka are likely to be strong contenders.
Britain’s Geraint Thomas, and Norwegian champion, Edvald Boasson Hagen, a double Tour stage winner, are both strong all-rounders able to serve Froome in the mountains and protect him on the flat.
Christian Knees, a valued member of Wiggins’ Tour-winning team, will also be a contender, should Sky wish to shore up matters on the flat. Should they seek additional climbing resources, the Columbian, Sergio Henao, would be a strong candidate.
Froome said his impressive collection of victories had strengthened his self-belief and that of his team-mates.
“So far this year I feel we’ve ticked all the right boxes in the build up to the Tour de France. Winning those races in their own respect – those are not small races – has given me a lot of confidence,” he said.
“It has given the team-mates around me a lot of confidence in my ability to lead the team, but more importantly, it’s given me the opportunity to be in this position – getting used to answering more questions from the press and having to deal with the different pressures which come with being the leader.”
The Kenyan-born Brit, second at last year’s Tour, had conciliatory words for outgoing champion, his team-mate, Sir Bradley Wiggins. Injury and illness have prevent the 2012 winner from defending his title, but Froome is confident the Londoner will return.
“We’re not just talking about some neo-pro. He’s the guy who won the Tour de France last year. He knows what he’s doing and I have no doubt he’ll be back.”
The comments will surprise many, after an extended period in which Wiggins’ early vacillations, and later insistence that he would defend his title, were widely considered destabilising.
“Having Brad would have added a huge element to the strength of this [Tour de France] team, but I do believe we’ve got all our bases covered with the riders we do have,” he added.
Froome and rival, Contador, are also likely to face a challenge for the yellow jersey from world number one, Joaquim Rodriquez (Katusha) and ‘Purtio’s’ countryman, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
Omega Pharma QuickStep have announced that Britain’s Mark Cavendish, the 2011/12 world road race champion, will lead its efforts in France. The Manxman will target stage wins, but could also contest the green jersey, a competition he won in 2011.
Check back next week for our analysis of the contenders for all the jersey competitions, including an assessment of Chris Froome’s chances of securing Team Sky’s second consecutive Tour de France victory .
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