Chris Froome Interview
Roadcycling.com has interviewed defending Tour de France Champion Chris Froome of Team Sky Pro Cycling before the start of Tour de France 2017. Froome discusses his hopes of winning a fourth Tour, the difficult route and stages of this year's Tour, preparations, rivals and racing style.
You are about to set out on a quest to defend your Tour de France Champion title. Why is the Tour de France such a special race and why do you continuously prioritize it over the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana?
The Tour is a special race. It's three weeks of racing under the most extreme circumstances. Everything is intensified.
You have to be able to deal with that pressure and expect the unexpected, like at Ventoux last year. That's the Tour de France. It's what makes the race what it is.
You know that there are going to be things that go against you in those three weeks, things that might be out of your control. Being able to cope with those under that pressure is a huge part of the challenge.
The Tour has given me memories that I'll keep with me for the rest of my life. I can't wait for it to start now. Honestly, I just love it. It's a feeling that you don't get from any other race.
Tell our readers about your preparations for this year's Tour de France
My preparation has been going well. I've had a slow build up, but that was always part of the plan. I've got a busy summer ahead, obviously with the Tour de France being the main goal, but also with the Vuelta a Espana afterwards as well, so there's a lot of racing still to come.
Something that really helped me last year with the Tour, the Olympics and the Vuelta was to take a slower start to the season.
I have taken a much more relaxed start to the year. I haven't done as many race days as I have in previous seasons. That will hopefully mean I'm going to be a lot fresher coming into this period, when I'll be racing a lot.
To be honest, I've been enjoying my riding but also enjoying spending time with my family as well. It's been really nice to be able switch off at times and spend some time at home. I think it's been healthy for me and it gives me a good balance.
How does this year's Tour de France route suit your skills and preferences?
I don't think this year's course necessarily suits me as well as previous Tour de France courses have. I say that because of the lack of mountain top finishes and also the lack of time trial kilometers. Having said that, it means that it's going to be a lot closer race and a lot more exciting for the fans.
Every Tour de France is a different race. I can't just rely on what I did the year before. I have to always try to look to improve, try and look at upping my game.
I'm going to have to make sure I'm absolutely at my best and to take advantage of any situations out on the road.
Some have considered your racing style in last year's Tour somewhat alternative. Will you keep surprising viewers around the globe?
At the end of the day the goal is to win and it's not necessarily about how you win. But if I look back at last year's Tour and some of the gambles I took, and some of the risks I took in terms of going for it on the descent, going for it in the crosswinds with Peter Sagan on a flat stage that would typically be a bunch sprint, it does make things more exciting, even for me. It's fun and it does bring the racing alive.
What will be the key stages at this year's Tour de France?
This year I think the real key stages are going to be the Izoard mountain top finish, which is the biggest mountain top finish in the Tour this year at over 2000 meters. It's a massive climb. Stage Nine is also a hard stage with the final climb up Mont du Chat and descending down into Chambery – I believe that's going to be a key stage.
I don't think this Tour will be won and lost on a single stage, but a combination of three weeks put together.
Who will be your main general classification rivals in the 2017 Tour de France?
It's difficult to name just one rival. Richie Porte is one of them, Nairo Quintana, Romain Bardet, who was second last year. You can never rule out Alberto Contador.
I'm certainly going to have my work cut out for me.
I think there are maybe a dozen riders who are in with a shot of winning the Tour this year, but I think my main rival is Richie Porte.
I've said for a long time that Richie has got the potential to win the Tour de France, it's just a matter of time until everything works out for him.
There are plenty of other guys who will be up there challenging for the overall win, though. I think the route really suits a rider like Bardet, and he showed last year that he has to be taken seriously. He's definitely one of the guys to look out for.
I know Quintana always says he rides stronger in the second Grand Tour, so I expect he'll come to the Tour very strong.
In lining up for this year's Tour you chose to aim for a fourth Tour de France victory. How would it feel to win the Tour again?
It would just be incredible to win a fourth Tour. A lot of people say it's just another number, but each Tour to me tells a different story. Each Tour is unique. It's a different battle in terms of getting that Yellow Jersey and then trying to hold on to it.
It's such a big goal to go for my fourth Tour, it feels as if it's an even greater achievement if I'm able to win four, so I have to work even harder to get there. That's given me a lot of motivation.
I do want to try and be up there with the guys who have won multiple Tours. They are seen as part of Tour de France history and it's a goal for me to try and be up there with them.
The Team Sky Tour de France line-up will include Geraint Thomas, who looks set to become an additional asset for Team Sky Grand Tour glory. Tell us about Thomas and his development.
Geraint Thomas is one of the most tenacious riders I know. A typical Welsh character. He's just so versatile.
What he's done in the last few years, going from the track, going to the Classics and now focusing more on stage racing, it's amazing to see how he has evolved and he can literally now do anything he wants.
This year's Tour will begin in Germany and you have German rider Christian Knees in your Tour roster as well
Knees is another one of those riders who works so hard for the team and who will be a massive help in making sure we have numbers up at the front of the race. He's been with the team a long time now and has a lot of experience. You can always just rely on him to get the job done. Knees has been really strong this year and obviously having the race start in Germany this year is going to be special for him.
In Michal Kwiatkowski you have a rider in the line-up who appears capable of taking on a multitude of roles within the team as needed throughout the Tour?
Kwiatkowski had an amazing start to the year, winning Milan-San Remo and Strade Bianche. He's in amazing shape and he's another rider who is very versatile. He can really climb well when he needs to, he has a really good ‘Classics' sense of positioning and of being in the right place at the right time.
I think he is one of those riders who can almost fit into any role within the team.
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