Chris Froome has told Cyclingnews that he is ready to shoulder the pressure and responsibility of leading Team Sky at the Tour de France, believing he has the ability to take on Alberto Contador and target overall success thanks to this year's mountainous route.
In a video interview recorded at Team Sky's media day in Mallorca, Froome also claimed that his second place in the 2012 Tour de France was a clear statement that cycling has changed. The Kenyan-born Briton sees Lance Armstrong's demise as an opportunity for the sport to find new role models people can admire.
Froome claimed his relationship had been sensationalized and is confident Bradley Wiggins will work for him in July, just as he helped Wiggins at the 2012 Tour de France.
"It's been sensationalized a lot. We're not best friends but we've got a working relationship and I think we'll both do exactly what's asked of each for the team, so we can achieve the team's goals," Froome told Cyclingnews.
"I think every team needs to go in (to the Tour) with contingency plans like I was last year's Tour. That guy will be the last help in the mountains if you like and the way its shaking out at the moment, Bradley would play that role for me this year."
In a change of programme, Froome will begin his 2013 season alongside Wiggins at the Tour of Oman on February 12. After that his programme will include Tirreno-Adriatico but then focus on being at his best for the Tour de France.
"It sounds like a lot of the big hitters are going out there (to Oman) but it's still very early days and hard to take real truths out of the results. It'd always be good to get one up on Contador," he said, seemingly relishing a battle with the Spaniard come July.
"I think he's definitely my biggest rival at the moment, he knows what he's doing in the big tours. I'd like to think my time trial is better than his and then stick with him in the mountains. However the Tour is so mountainous this year, if anyone has a bad day, that could potentially be minutes lost there. To me it looks like the race is going to be won or lost in the mountains at this year's Tour de France."
Being a role model
Froome did not shy away from questions about doping or Lance Armstrong. Like most riders he is looking to the future and believes he can is a role model for the future of the sport.
"It's disappointing, it's shocking. It came as no surprise to me. But I think everyone in the cycling world knew it was going to come out. But to actually hear him say the words that he doped and that he doped to such a scale, is shocking," Froome said of Armstrong's partial confession to Oprah Winfrey.
"It's something that I hope will help the sport move forward and close the door on that era of cycling. The sport has definitely developed. It's no longer the case of guys doing blood bags and transfusions, etc. If they are, it's a very minority, the guys who are losing their contracts or just trying to take chances. They're the guys who are getting caught."
"Cycling definitely has transformed. And for me, coming second in last year's Tour de France, was a clear statement to say: 'Yes, the sport has changed'. I would never have been able to do that if doping was still prevalent in the sport."
"I think it presents us with an opportunity. The sport needs new figures to look up to, clean winners who aren't going to get their titles stripped. Personally it gives me a lot of motivation, it gives me a goal, something to aim for and hopefully inspire people, knowing that the sport has changed."