Chris Froome (Team Sky) says that he is ready to return to the "business part" of his season at the Criterium du Dauphine as his final preparation for the Tour de France. Feeling confident and "ready for the challenges ahead," he also acknowledged that he is not taking anything for granted because of the strong field in the race this year.
"This time of the year it always feels like it's really getting towards the business part of my season," he said in a team press release. "I'm coming off the back of two great blocks of training with the guys up in Tenerife, which has got me in great shape and ready for the challenges ahead."
The Briton is a three-time champion at the Dauphine, winning the race in 2013, 2015 and 2016. A win this year would make him the first to win the title four times, and the first to win it in three consecutive seasons. He will be supported by Philip Deignan, Peter Kennaugh, Christian Knees, Michal Kwiatkowski, David Lopez, Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard.
Looking at his competition, he said, "I think the line-up of riders at the Dauphine is particularly impressive this year in terms of GC contenders and other Tour rivals, so it should be a big test and a real challenge.
"I'm going there hoping to win, but I'm fully conscious that I'm going up against some very strong competition – probably stronger competition than I've had at previous editions of the Dauphine - so I'm certainly not taking anything for granted."
The Criterium du Dauphine starts this Sunday with a a 170.5km out and back stage from Saint-Etienne and will finish with a short, but decisive 115km stage to Plateau de Solaison the following Sunday.
Sport Director Nicolas Portal echoed Froome's sentiments, saying, “There is always a good field of Tour de France contenders at the Dauphine and that's definitely the case this year with riders like Richie (Porte), Bardet, Valverde and Contador. They will all be coming here in good form.
"It's a good, challenging course with a mix of different types of stages, so it will be a proper test for Chris. We've got a good group of guys here and we'll be racing for the win."