Last year the atmosphere turned tense during the same event in Corsica, but this time team manager Dave Brailsford set a more celebratory, patriotic tone by highlighting just how much cycling has developed in Britain in the last 15 years and especially in recent years, thanks to the support of Sky and the creation of Team Sky.
"Sky's goal was to get one million people cycling. A recent report has shown that 2.1 million people are now cycling at least once a week in Britain. That cements that we've become a cycling nation in many aspects. I'm sure the crowds will do the race proud and we hope to do so as a team. We're here with great riders and with a rider who win it last year, he's a great champion," Brailsford said in his rallying call.
During the press conference, Brailsford was asked about Team Sky's policy on Therapeutic Use Exemptions following the recent controversies about Froome's TUE at the Tour de Romandie. He did not answer the question directly, preferring to reiterate the team's stance on doping and on winning clean.
"We set out to try to win this race with a British rider and do it clean. We did that. We race clean and we operate by the rules. We'll continue to do that," he said.
The British team manager also revealed his determination to win a third consecutive Tour de France after Wiggins in 2012 and Froome in 2013. Brailsford preferred not to think of this year's race as a defence of their 2013 victory but rather as a new challenge.
"We love this race because it's different every year, it's a different route every year, different riders and their form is different. Winning comes back to ambition and desire," he said.
"I don’t agree with idea of defending a victory; you try to win it, not defend it. While we've won it twice, we’re trying to win a third. If that doesn’t happen we’ll come back for the next 10 years to win number six and seven. We're up for it this year and we'll give it our best shot. We're ready to fight, then what be will be."
Froome: "My big goal is to comeback and try and do it again"
Chris Froome revealed his thoughts on the Tour de France, his form and his fears when speaking to selected media, including Cyclingnews, on Wednesday.
24 hours later, he seemed more confident and more belligerent.
He refused a suggestion that the modern day demands of the Tour and a crack down on doping via the Biological Passport had made it difficult for rider to win more than one Tour de France. No rider has won back to back editions of the Tour de France since before the Lance Armstrong era.
"I have to disagree that if you win once you're spent for years," Froome said.
"But I would agree with the principal that there are added pressures to coming back to try to win again. There's more on your plate as a Tour winner. The time between races slips away due to media and sponsor commitments. Life changes and that's a bigger factor rather than the one suggested."
"My big goal is to comeback and try and do it again. There are no guarantees but I'm certainly going to try."
Froome admitted that he was feeling the extra pressure.
"There definitely is an increased pressure element coming back as defending champion, starting on home soil and with huge crowds but I think it's a warm positive feeling, not negative. It can’t start in a better way, there isn't a better launch pad into the Tour de France."
"All my rivals seemed to have upped their game. It's going to be really exciting right to the end."
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