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Froome ready to defend Tour of Oman title

Cycling News
February 17, 17:25,
February 17, 16:25
Second Edition Cycling News, Monday, February 17, 2014
Chris Froome on the podium of the Tour de France

Chris Froome on the podium of the Tour de France

  • Chris Froome on the podium of the Tour de France
  • Tour de France winner Chris Froome shows of his maillot jaune at the head of the Saitama criterium in Japan.
  • Chris Froome (Team Sky) wins the key mountain stage at Tirreno-Adriatico but lost the overall race to Nibali

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No Milan-San Remo if Pompeiana is removed

Chris Froome's hugely successful 2013 season began with an impressive victory at the Tour of Oman and he appeared lean and keen to challenge for a second successful victory when he sat down with the media on the eve of the race.

Froome will wear dossard number one when the Tour of Oman kicks of on Tuesday. Last year the six-day race marked the start of his meticulous development for the Tour de France. This year he starts as the Tour winner with far less pressure on his shoulders and far more experience of racing and winning important stage races.

He faced questions about his form, his rivals, the pressures of being a Tour de France winner, and also about doping, the Cycling Independent Reform Commission investigation. The questions would have irritated many riders and some of his Team Sky teammates but Froome answered them all with his usual aplomb.

"Its different this year in the sense that I don't have the same pressure that I had last year. I'm not here feeling that I have to win this as build up to the Tour," he explained calmly.

"There's less pressure because I'm not here to gain experience as a leader. I did already last year. It was critical last year but this year I feel more relaxed but I'm still motivated."

"I've done some really good training and the race will tell how good that has been. I feel like I'm in good condition. I'm looking forward to racing again now. I've done a lot of training and its good to put it to use now."

Froome travelled directly from South Africa to Oman and acknowledged that he has the advantage of having trained in the heat in recent weeks. He has clocked up some intense workout under the watchful eye of coach Tim Kerrison and with teammate Kanstantsin Siutsou but is unsure how his form will compare to the likes of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), who have raced both the Tour of San Luis and the Dubai Tour.

"I don't quite know where I am but I'd love to see where I'm at. I'd love a victory but I'm not sure where I am compared to the other guys. We'll see," he said, explaining his reasons for a warm-weather season debut in Oman.

"This time of year I prefer to do warmer races where good weather is guaranteed. Having spent most of my off-season in South Africa, it's easy to come here and start racing. I'm acclimatized already to the heat; there's a mountaintop finish and a few very lumpy stages in between. I think it's just a good race to kick thing off and take it from there."

Landing an early psychological blow

Froome landed his first psychological blow against Alberto Contador in Oman last year and is keen to compare his form with his 2014 Grand Tour rivals. Contador has shied away from another early season confrontation but Nibali, Rodriguez, Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Robert Gesink (Belkin), Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo), Thibaut Pinot ( Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto Belisol) plus Andy and Frank Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) are all at the Tour of Oman.

"There are always good riders coming here and it's good to compare to where you are after winter. For the Tour de France I don't think it's here or there at this point. There's a lot of time between now and the Tour and a lot can happen. Riders can gain form, lose form, get injured, so it's too early to say anything about the Tour. But whoever does win here is going to come out with a mental advantage over the other guys for sure."

No Milan-San Remo without the Pompeiana, no early taste of Le Tour cobbles

Froome confirmed his race and altitude programme for 2014, revealing he will skip Milan-San Remo if the Pompeiana climb is taken out of the race.

"I don't think I'm going to be doing Milan-San Remo. I think the new climb has been taken out, so it's not quite 100% a climbers race as it would have been. I plan doing the Volta a Catalunya, which starts the day after San Remo and so unless it's 100% a climber's race, I'll rule it out of my programme"

"I'll be riding Tirreno-Adriatico as far as I can see, then after Catalunya, I'll ride Romandie and the Dauphine. Like always, I'll try to do at least two blocks of two weeks up in Teide."

Froome clarified that he won't ride Paris-Roubaix or another cobbled Classic to get a taste of the pave that will feature on stage five. Though he will study and train on the sections of pave that feature in the nerve-wracking stage.

"From what I can understand, the cobbles are very different in a one-day race than in a Grand Tour. I'd personally prefer not to take the risk in a race on the cobbles. I'd like to go and train on cobbles a lot to prep for that cobbled-stage in the Tour.

"I've done Paris-Roubaix and so I know what to expect. I pulled out at the second feed, after giving a wheel to my then teammate Baden Cooke. It was fine as a neo-pro. I was quite happy to make it to 200km."

Not avoiding the doping questions

Froome never ducked away from doping questions during 2013 and faced several more while talking to the media at the Tour of Oman.

He reiterated his belief that cycling has moved on since the widespread doping of the past.

"I can only speak from my personal point of view but I know where I'm at and if I'm able to get the results that I get, that tells me that cycling is in a very good place," he said.

"I think it's just going to take a little more time for other people to have the same confidence"

Asked for opinion on the recently created Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC), which will investigate the years of widespread doping in professional, Froome admitted he did not know the details of how the Commission will work but backed the idea of the investigation.

"I can't say I'm up to date on what's been happening there. If that is going to happen (lesser bans for people who confess), there's going to be some really interesting things coming out," he said.

"For sure there are a lot of riders who are still riding at the moment who were riding in that era and haven't had any kind of penalty. Not to say they're guilty but I'll follow that very closely."

Froome agreed that it is time for cycling to draw a line under cycling murky past and look to the future. He is ready to play his part, so his Tour de France victories are never called into doubt.

"We definitely need to draw a line in the sand to say: 'Ok. Listen. This is where the sport is now. That's what happened back then and it's not a secret anymore, we know about that.' And then we can move on from there. I do believe that it could be important," he said.

"Certainly. It's something that is still damaging us today and its something we're going to have to live with. It's up to us now to change that image."

"I think it's going to take a few consecutive Tour wins that aren't ruined by doping cases. Personally that's what I'd like to see. The only way for me to guarantee that is for me to win. I'd love to see that. I genuinely would."

Bmo012 5 months ago
He's a class act.
timwaagh 5 months ago
'The only way for me to guarantee that is for me to win. I'd love to see that. I genuinely would' ... love his sense of humor :)
RidemanRide100 5 months ago
"For sure there are a lot of riders who are still riding at the moment who were riding in that era and haven't had any kind of penalty. Not to say they're guilty but I'll follow that very closely." Really? What would you call it then Chris? I understand it's next to impossible to name names but we all know who those riders are. Seems like the Omertà is still at work. That is a very odd statement Mr. Froome.
Christopher Clarke 5 months ago
i'd call it a not so subtle early mental swipe at Nibs and the other riders who were racing at the top level already before 2010.. when randomly he suddenly appeared.
Bean1993 5 months ago
There are riders still riding that were riding in the early 2000's that almost definitely know things about doping at the time. He didn't say he knew who these people were and he didn't state that they all took PEDs. Possibly reading too much into it. Besides, unless you ask someone something in person to their face then you can never be sure of the context. Quotes that are even slightly out of context can completely change in meaning.
PJK1972 5 months ago
Most of the riders that matter have been busted eg: Grand Tour Winners : Di Luca, Valverde, Contador, Landis, Armstrong, Basso, Scarponi. They have all had bans and some but not all have had GT wins stripped. There are still some riders whose performances have dropped dramatically since 2011, which leads me to suggest possible doping eg: Andy Schlek, Cobo etc. Chris might be suggesting he was cheated in the 2011 Vuelta The fact that Froome lost to Cobo who never put in another perfomance like that before or since must have pissed him off.
Cance > TheRest 5 months ago
Atleast Cobo had a name before that Vuelta. He was hardly an unknown factor, which you will notice if you study his palmares. Why would it **** off Froome? I honestly don't think he's that stupid to do so. He knew he got beaten by a better rider and given that Froome was the big surprise of that race, I hardly think Cobo was any more suspicious than Froome - rather the opposite.
cantpedal 5 months ago
I have no idea if he is or was clean but Schlek's fall off is certainly understandable due to his injury. I hear all the dopers saying the lack of form is because he's clean. Imagine if he came right back into form. The screams of what's he on now???
Nicolaj221 5 months ago
"The fact that Froome lost to Cobo who never put in another perfomance like that before or since must have pissed him off." The same goes for Froome, that was the first time we saw Froome being up there with the GC guys. So that is really an invalid argument.
Mathew Mitchell 5 months ago
Froome has finished 2nd and 1st in the Tour de France since then though...
the sceptic 5 months ago
Armstrong all over again.
Nicolaj221 5 months ago
I agree. Though all of the brits always say that everything Team Sky does, is based on "hard training", I remember the same argument back with US Postal. But of course, if Froome and the rest of Sky turns out to be clean, then that is awesome, though I don't believe in stories like that anymore.
antmills 5 months ago
If you really believe that Sky is like US Postal, then you need to look more closely .... although, to be honest, it doesn't take much to see the world of difference in the 2 cases. LA was always a suspected doper, with loads of dodgy connections, such as Ferarri. Only fanboys thought otherwise. ... So, show us a suspicious connection or accept (grudgingly, of course) that Sky are for real.
BikesForDays 5 months ago
Dr. Leinders...
RidemanRide100 5 months ago
@antmills. Do you remember the name of the Dr that was on their team. I think it started with an L. Doesn't mean they are guilty. Just a little weird knowing what their stance on doping is. I'm with Nicola, this training harder stuff, especially when you were basically a neo pro, is crazy talk. They all train hard. To win all year round, like a specific Woman who dominates every single WC race is very unbelievable to me. Any rider that can win the tour multiple times and then ride in such a dominate fashion year round. Makes me a non-beleiver. Maybe I'm a pessimist because I've seen the dominate performances from the 90's replayed over and over in my head. Oh, add Jens to that list of people that are still in the Peloton from the 90's.
Farcanal 5 months ago
So your logic is that Leinders, who had next to f****ing nothing to do with Sky in terms of length of service and depth of involvement, has some magical knowledge of an utra-advanced doping system that he can pass on, and train people in the use of, in such a short space of time and so effectively that they can produce GT winners out of people you claim (wrongly) were nobodies with no possibility of the elaborate anti-doping system detecting them? Listen to yourself
RidemanRide100 5 months ago
Farc, how do you know all of this. Did you ride with Team Sky? He had Barely any involvement? Glad you are so confident in your claims. You should listen to yourself while I listen to myself. Why in the world did they hire this guy? Oh, I didn't say Froome was a nobody. I think he's a decent rider. Just not a come out of nowhere winner of a GC or second at the Vuelta etc.... Seems like you are putting words into my mouth. I just said he was a neo pro. Which is a few steps up from where I am. I'm just saying that Sky is supposed to be the most professional team in Cycling, with the best so called training techniques and the best coaches. If they didn't do their Due Diligence on Leinders then that is their fault. The anti doping system isn't really that "elaborate". I think it might be the other way around.
WillumChaos 5 months ago
Come on guys - listen to yourself: Cance: "and given that Froome was the big surprise of that race (Vuelta 11), I hardly think Cobo was any more suspicious than Froome - rather the opposite." the sceptic: "Armstrong all over again." Nicolaj: "if Froome and the rest of Sky turns out to be clean (...)" I have picked these three statements out, because I want to ask into the logic of them: 1. So you are suspicious the first time you enter a GC in a grand tour. How is it possible ever to have a podium spot without doping, then? 2. There's so many differences between Froome and Armstrong, that I don't even want to go into details here. 3. How exactly are they to "turn out to be clean"? If any team had a answer to that, I think they really wanted to do that! But maybe you can tell people of your wisdom? These are, in my opinion, important questions we must ask ourself if we don't want the cycling sport to fade away and constantly be about doping. How can we ever trust a new great performance, and how can we ever say that a rider or team is clean? Maybe he was/are on something, but as long as it isn't proved I count him as clean. It's the only thing you can do. It's easy to lean back and say everyone with GC-wins and great stagewins is a sinner, but then I can't see the fun of watching cycling sports.. Btw I'm not even a Froome-fan. (Now you are welcome to disslike my comment, because you don't have the guts or arguments to defend the negative/pessimistic view on the cycling athletes)
Tideplay1 5 months ago
Either Can't-adore is simply blowing smoke up everyone's arses or he has found a new undetectable regimin All this talk about winning. What gives.