Froome prepared for battle in Tour de France opening stages

Froome prepared for battle in Tour de France opening stages

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Chris Froome remains confident ahead of his Tour de France bid and insists staying out of trouble is paramount on the three opening stages in Corsica.

The 28-year-old Team Sky leader, bidding to become the second Brit to win the Grand Tour after Sir Bradley Wiggins, enters the Tour having enjoyed victories in the Tour of Oman, Criterium International, Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2013.

“I feel like I am in really good shape and the rest of the team is in really good shape, so things are looking good at this point,” British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme rider Froome told TeamSky.com.

“I feel a lot more confident in my own abilities and just being in this position, having the privilege of leading the team in a race like the Tour de France, gives me a lot of confidence.

“In terms of the team I have got around me, we have got a lot of strength and I am confident that I am going into the Tour with, probably, the strongest team behind me.”

The 100th edition of the Tour makes its first ever visit to the island in the Mediterranean Sea and Froome is well aware of the potential pitfalls in the early days.

The Olympic time trial bronze medallist lost one minute and 25 seconds on the latter sections of stage one in 2012 after suffering a puncture and he anticipates a similarly tense beginning.

"Everyone is fighting for position and trying to stay at the front, and especially on windy Corsican roads, it is going to be a battle."

Chris Froome

“Corsica is going to be a tough one,” Froome said.

“Typically at the Tour de France, those first few days are really stressful in the peloton anyway. Everyone feels as if they can get into that yellow jersey position and the race is very open at that point.

“You feel very nervous. Everyone is fighting for position and trying to stay at the front, and especially on windy Corsican roads, it is going to be a battle.

“Days two and three are by no means flat. The race is not going to be won in Corsica, but it could be lost in Corsica, so it is somewhere we have to stay out of trouble and minimise losses, if there are any.”

Chaperoning Froome will be three other Britons in Geraint Thomas and debutants Ian Stannard and Peter Kennaugh, in addition to Richie Porte, Vasil Kiryienka, Kanstantsin Siutsou, David Lopez and Edvald Boasson Hagen.

And Froome is delighted with his entourage for the 3,479-kilometre parcours.

“In Richie, we have another guy who can finish on the podium at the Tour and someone who is even capable of winning it,” Froome said. “That puts us in a strong position being able to play that card.

“I haven’t done much racing with G, but his climbing has come on a huge amount and he is going to be a huge help in the mountains.

“Stannard, Kiryienka and Kosta are engines that you can’t go into a Tour without and I would expect them to be doing huge mileage on the front.

“Pete has lifted his game in the Dauphine and shown he can be there in the mountains when it comes down to the hard end of the race. Eddie is flying and he showed that with his stage win at the Dauphine. It’s almost like he can do whatever he wants in the races.

“I find it really encouraging to see how the guys lifted themselves through the Dauphine once we got into position with the yellow jersey how everyone seemed to step it up a notch in their performance to help protect that yellow jersey.”

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