Chris Froome is confident he can be at his freshest and best in Wednesday’s Olympic Games time trial, and hopes his Team Sky coach Tim Kerrison can make the difference in the search for a second Olympic medal.
Kerrison, Sky's head of athlete performance who has masterminded all four of the team's Tour de France victories in the last five years, flew out to Rio de Janeiro on Sunday. He has been helping Froome recon the hilly Rio course as the Briton looks to improve on the bronze medal he won in the discipline at the London Games four years ago.
“He is flying out and will stay close to the TT circuit,” Froome told the press in Rio at the weekend. “We will head out there and have a look at it and come up with a plan; a pacing strategy.”
Froome has worked particularly hard on his time trialling in preparation for this season, and he seems to have hit on a winning formula, with his third Tour de France victory last month based largely on gains made against the clock. He was second behind Tom Dumoulin on the undulating 37km time trial in the Ardèche, putting two minutes into most of his general classification rivals, and then beat the Dutchman on the more severely hilly affair on stage 18 to take a stranglehold on yellow.
“It is something we have done a lot of work on and it worked really well at the Tour this year,” said Froome. “Ideally we will be able to replicate what we did at the Tour, although it’s a very different type of effort.”
The course is 54.6km long and takes place on the Grumari circuit that formed the opening part of Saturday’s road race. The loop will be tackled twice and features two stiff climbs that should tip the balance in Froome’s favour compared to the pure specialists on the flat.
Tom Dumoulin has established himself as the world’s best when presented with a hilly course, but there’s the possibility his wrist, in plaster after he broke his scaphoid bone at the Tour de France last month, will hold him back.
“I’ve no doubt he will still be a serious threat,” countered Froome, who also picked out some other big names he'll have to keep an eye on.
“The other guy who I thought showed well on Saturday was Fabian Cancellara [Switzerland] – we could see him back to his TT-ing best. I would rate those two. Then also Tony Martin [Germany] . Although the course is hilly, it only takes three or four minutes to get up there. Tony can do that just fine, and then there are long flat sections which he will enjoy. Also Vasil Kiryienka [Belarus] and Rohan Dennis [Australia]. Those five I would say will be my main rivals.”
Froome was 12th in the road race on Saturday and said he “didn’t leave anything out there”, but he has no worries about recovering from that effort – along with the accumulated fatigue from the Tour de France.
“I buried myself in London four years ago as well – I was completely spent – and I was fine in the time trial a few days later,” he said, referring to his bronze medal, which came on the back of second overall at the Tour de France. “It should be enough time to recover.”