x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Chris Froome brushes off all Tour de France talk

Dismissing early talk his favourite status for the Tour de France, Chris Froome nonetheless reinforced that notion by winning the Criterium du Dauphine.

Britain's Christopher Froome removes his raincoat as he rides during the 155.5-kilometre final stage of the 65th edition of the Dauphine Criterium.
Britain's Christopher Froome removes his raincoat as he rides during the 155.5-kilometre final stage of the 65th edition of the Dauphine Criterium.

The British cyclist Chris Froome reinforced his status as favourite for this year's Tour de France when he won the Criterium du Dauphine warm-up race on Sunday.

Froome, 28, who finished second behind Team Sky teammate Sir Bradley Wiggins in last year's Tour de France, claimed victory after the Italian Alessandro de Marchi won the 155.5-kilometre eighth and final stage from Sisteron to Risoul, France.

Froome, Kenyan-born and brought up in South Africa but who has ridden with a British licence since 2008, was followed in the overall standings by Sky teammate Richie Porte of Australia, who finished 58 seconds behind.

Froome, who said that the whole week had gone like a dream, disagreed that he is the man to beat for the Tour title.

"No, I do not consider myself the favourite for the Tour," he said. "I have won the Dauphine, and other races before, but the counter is back to zero when the Tour starts. There will be six to seven main contenders for overall victory."

Specifically, he named Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Joaquim Rodriguez, Tejay van Garderen, Nairo Quintana and Porte as front-runners to win.

Froome said the sport of Lance Armstrong has changed since those drug-filled years.

"Cycling has definitely changed," he said. "The proof is that I am able to be up with the leaders. I remember the years of 2003/04 of Armstrong and Ivan Basso … the sport has changed a lot in 10 years.

"What is shocking is that all the riders are all seen in the same light after the revelations. But one learns from the past and my win proves that things can evolve."

Froome, who was 36th when he represented Kenya at the 2006 road race world championships, said he would have liked to help Porte win the stage.

"It would have been great to win the stage but we have already won two this week. It just proved impossible to reel in De Marchi," he said.

Froome's victory was the third successive British win in the race. Wiggins, who is not defending his Tour de France crown this year, won it in the past two years.

Froome, who had already been designated as Sky's leader for this year's Tour de France before Wiggins announced he was not going to compete because of injury, had effectively clinched victory in the criterium with his victory in the first mountain stage on Thursday.

The Tour de France begins on June 29.

 

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