Chris Froome on the Tour de France route: “It’s challenging and it’s got a bit of everything.”
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Chris Froome on the Tour de France route: “It’s challenging and it’s got a bit of everything.”

by Ben Atkins at 5:04 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Defending champion likes what he sees despite cobblestones and single time trial

chris froomeChris Froome (Team Sky) greeted the route of the 2014 Tour de France largely positively at its presentation in Paris’ Palais de Congrès today. The defending champion will line up on the start line in Leeds, Yorkshire, on July 5th next year with the intention of taking a second consecutive victory in cycling’s biggest race, and feels that the three-week course suits his characteristics.

“I like it,” Froome said at the race presentation. “It’s challenging and it’s got a bit of everything, which is good for the Tour. It’s exactly what we need.”

A controversial move taken by race organiser ASO has been the inclusion of 15.4km of cobblestones in the fifth stage, between Ypres, Belgium, and Arenberg, Porte du Hainaut, which has not been popular with everybody. While Froome himself is far from a fan of the cobbles, he accepts that they will be something that he will have to tackle if he is to retain his title.

“The cobblestones are going to make it interesting, that’s for sure, and they are going to make a good addition to the race,” he said.

“For us as riders, it’s a bit of a risk - there are accidents and mechanical problems that could happen - but it will make the race exciting and begin sort the race out at an early stage.”

One thing that Froome is very happy to see in the race route, however, is the stage ten finish on La Planche des Belles Filles. The Tour first visited the Vosges ski station in 2012, and was the scene of Froome’s first ever stage victory in the race; it was also the day when teammate Bradley Wiggins took the Yellow Jersey, which he was to hold until the end of the race and become the first ever British winner.

“It was a very special day for me winning at La Planches des Belles Filles,” Froome admitted. “I’ll get a special feeling going back there again next year. It’s going to be the first summit finish again – which it was last time – and I think that always marks quite an important day for the GC riders. Before we reach that climb it’s a harder stage than it was in the last edition and maybe we can expect some bigger time gaps next time around.”

Froome’s 2013 victory - as well as his 2012 second place - was very much built in the mountains, with stage victories on Ax-3-Domaines and Mont Ventoux. It was cemented in the race’s two long time trials, however - with second place in the first, flat stage, and victory in the mountainous seconds.

His skills against the clock helped to distance those overall rivals that might have worried him in the mountains, but the presence of just one time trial - of 54km - in the 2014 race does not worry the British rider.

“I think there is enough time trialling, especially with the one time trial being over 50km,” Froome said. “That’s definitely going to sort the race out. It’s predominantly flat, it’s long, and there could be big time gaps there as well.”


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