Froome feeling 'fresher' in bid for 4th Tour

Chris Froome (Gallo Images)
Chris Froome (Gallo Images)

Dusseldorf - Chris Froome insisted on Wednesday he was unconcerned by his failure to win a race this year, saying he feels "fresher" ahead of a bid for a fourth Tour de France win.

Over the last five years, the 32-year-old Briton has always won at least two stage races leading into the Tour, but this season he is yet to taste victory of any sort.

The Kenyan-born Team Sky leader insists he has simply been gauging his efforts better to be able to come on stronger as the Tour progresses.

"I feel as if I'm exactly where I need to be," said Froome, who was fourth at the Criterium du Dauphine earlier this month -- a race he had won in the three previous years where he triumphed at the Tour.

"The Dauphine was just what I needed to get that extra race rhythm -- I had been very light on race days up to the Dauphine, which means I'm coming into the Tour fresher than I've ever been before.

"If the numbers in training or my feeling on the bike are anything to go by, I'm ready for the next three weeks," added Froome, ahead of Saturday's Tour start in Duesseldorf.

However, Froome gave a slightly ambiguous answer when asked whether his rivals would see him as more vulnerable having not won yet this year.

"Potentially. If the Dauphine was anything to go by then Richie Porte, certainly in terms of form and condition, Richie's going to be the man to beat -- and stands out as the strongest of my rivals."

Australian Porte used to be a team-mate of Froome's and helped him win his first two Tours in 2013 and 2015, before moving to BMC last year.

Porte finished fifth last year and looked set to win the Dauphine earlier this month before being caught out tactically on the final stage and losing out to Denmark's Jakob Fuglsang by just 10 seconds.

The likes of Porte, Fuglsang, Nairo Quintana and even Alejandro Valverde come into the Tour having won stage races this year, but not Froome.

"Having a victory coming into the Tour de France is always great for morale and confidence, but I can take a lot of confidence from having won three Tours already," said the Briton.

He also insisted he had prepared himself differently to be able to maintain his form through to the Vuelta a Espana, which begins in August.

That is a race in which he has finished second three times, and one he is desperate to win.

"Sometimes I feel as if coming into Grand Tours, certainly in the third week, that's when it gets really tough to hang on," said Froome.

"I'd like to think we took a similar approach last year with the Olympics and Vuelta also in mind, and I think it did work for me last year.

"I came pretty close to being able to win both -- I was first in the Tour and second in the Vuelta, and there was the Olympics in the middle as well which made it tricky -- so there's a similar kind of thinking.

"This year, if everything goes well, I would like to focus on the Vuelta as well."

Froome, who revealed he is close to signing a three-year contract extension with Sky until 2021, said he believes attack is what is needed to win this Tour.

"The race this year is going to favour more aggressive riders. I'm certainly looking for those opportunities and looking to ride a great race.

"If the opportunity's there it's more the mindset you come to the race with -- you can't train to be more aggressive, unless you go picking fights with all the cars -- it's more a mindset.

"You come to the race looking for opportunities and if opportunities present themselves, I'm definitely going to take them."

Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Rugby
45% - 5525 votes
Cricket
11% - 1370 votes
Football
18% - 2289 votes
Athletics
2% - 276 votes
Boxing
1% - 107 votes
Cycling
2% - 278 votes
Golf
5% - 608 votes
Motorsport
8% - 976 votes
Tennis
3% - 390 votes
Water sports
1% - 109 votes
American sports
1% - 117 votes
MMA / WWE / UFC
3% - 359 votes
Vote