Froome: The Tour de France really starts in the mountains

Defending champion happy with opening weekend

After two days of racing at the Tour de France, Chris Froome (Team Sky) is in a strong position sitting inside the top ten and with his overall ambitions of winning a third title still intact.

He has navigated through two potentially dangerous days while two principle rivals – Alberto Contador and Richie Porte – have lost significant time. However, the British rider is well aware that the real racing will not begin until the race hits the mountains towards the end of the first week. He has also pinpointed stage 5 from Limoges to Le Lioran, with its uphill finish as another key stage.

"It's another tricky uphill finish," he told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 3.

"We've got to be careful there. Again, it could be a stage like yesterday where you're not looking to gain time but you don't want to lose time. Then there are seven, eight and nine when we're already up in the mountains. That's where the race really starts for us. So far our climbers have not had to do much, apart from stay out of trouble and look after themselves. Hopefully they will be fresh for those stages."

As for stage 3, on paper it appears to be a relatively uncomplicated affair with the sprinters destined to contest the win. Froome and the other GC contenders will hope to simply hide in the bunch and conserve their reserves.

"The pressure is off a little bit today given that it should be one for the sprinters. I think that the GC has already started to take a little bit of shape so hopefully that will calm the bunch down."

Froome also made the point that his team have kept him where he needs to be. Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe both took a spill on stage 1 and the former is nursing a knock but other than that the team has kept out of trouble.

"So far, I really can't complain. It couldn't have gone any better. The team have been at the front and ridden really well. We've not been on the front all day burning matches and the guys have saved energy. So far, touch wood, things have gone really well."

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