CYCLING / Favourite Chris Froome says his build-up has been perfect
Chris Froome said on Thursday that his build-up for this year’s Tour de France had been perfect but added that nothing could have prepared him for the hype that goes with being favourite to win the biggest race in cycling.
The 28-year-old Kenya-born British rider is widely expected to succeed his fellow countryman, and Sky colleague, Bradley Wiggins as champion at the end of the race, which gets underway in Corsica on Saturday.
Like Wiggins 12 months ago, Froome comes into the Tour in fine fettle — among his successes already this season are a victory in the Criterium International in Corsica and a first place in the recent Criterium du Dauphine.
However, while feeling in great shape before the Grand Depart, Froome acknowledged that he was still not fully comfortable with his status as odds-on favourite in the eyes of most.
Sitting alongside Froome, and eager to give his team leader a rest from the limelight, Sky principal Dave Brailsford urged him to take it one step at a time in his bid for victory and sought to play down the inevitable comparisons made between this year’s favourite and last year’s winner Wiggins, who is missing here due to injury.
Alberto Contador is seen as the most likely rival for Froome in the general classification, especially with Vincenzo Nibali not taking part.
The Italian is the only man to have got the better of Froome this year, having done so in the Tirreno-Adriatico.
However, Froome himself lamented the absence of Nibali and insisted the field remains wide open.
Cavendish aiming high
Just as the Tour de France is entering into new territory, visiting Corsica for the first time in its history, so sprint king Mark Cavendish is aiming to do something he has never done before in Saturday’s opening stage.
The 28-year-old from the Isle of Man has his sights set on winning the 213-kilometre ride up Corsica's east coast from Porto-Vecchio to Bastia as he looks to pull on the legendary overall race leader’s yellow jersey for the first time.
“The yellow jersey is the only major jersey I am missing now,” Cavendish said at an Omega Pharma-Quick Step team press conference aboard the huge boat that is serving as race headquarters during its visit to Corsica.
Apart from Saturday’s opener, the sprinter-friendly stages on this Tour will be stages five, six, 10, 12, 13 and 21 — the last being on the Champs Elysees where Cavendish will aim for a fifth consecutive win. — Agencies