Chris Froome (Team Sky) will target the Tour de France and Rio Olympic Games road race in 2016 but the defence of his Tour crown remains the principle focus for the coming campaign. The British rider won his second Tour in three years in July and on Tuesday in Paris was presented with a more favourable route than the one he demolished three months ago, with a shade more individual time trialing and a stage finish on Ventoux where he laid the foundations for his 2013 win.
"It's a parcours that tests every aspect of professional cycling," Froome said after the route presentation. "You're going to have to be able to time trial, climb extremely well and descend properly. In the first week I can imagine that crosswinds are going to be quite prevalent as well. You're going to need a team to protect you there also."
This time last year Froome issued a statement on his personal website questioning his participation in the 2015 and suggesting that the Giro d'Italia would be part of his programme. Whether that open pondering was anything more than a threat or urge for ASO to prepare a more time trial friendly course remains unclear but in Paris on Tuesday he was at least offered a route slightly more favourable to the 2015 edition.
The cobbles of 2014 and 2015 – terrain in which Froome actually excelled this year – have been removed but so too as the team trial and prologue. Instead the race will open with a series of demanding road stages as the race heads from north to south and the first mountain stages in the Pyrenees with a climactic stage to Andorra on stage 9. The 37 kilometre time trial on stage 13 comes a day after the summit finish to Mont Ventoux, while the next time trial to Megeve on stage 18 offers the climbers a fighting chance of limiting their losses with a testing uphill parcours. The 2016 route is one that suits Froome but Vincenzo Nibali, Alberto Contador, and Nairo Quintana, will all see their own opportunities.
For Froome the aim is to defend his crown – a feat no rider has done since Miguel Indurain in the 1990s.
"It's hugely important," Froome said when asked how crucial it will be to repeat his 2015 title.
"I'm at the stage in my career where I think that I still have a huge amount still to give. I've won two Tour titles already but I feel like I've got more left in me. There are no guarantees in the sport and there's nothing to say that I'm going to win any more titles but I'm going to go back and give it my all."
"The route is one that suits me well and we've got some really interesting news signings on the team. There are guys who I really look forward to working more closely with. Lets see but it's going to be an exciting year ahead."
All roads lead to Rio
The 2016 Rio Olympic Games remains a target in it's own right for the Team Sky leader, who won a bronze in the individual time trial in London three years ago. The Rio parcours for both the road race and time trial provide opportunities for climbers and Grand Tour riders like Froome.
"The Tour for sure is going to be main focus to start off with but there's no reason why, if the condition is still good coming out of the Tour, that we couldn't go on and focus on the Olympics. It's going to be a really tough Olympic route and one for the climbers. So lets see. I've still to do well in a one day race but maybe that's something that I can work on for next season."
"I've had a bronze medal in the Olympics and that was unreal and incredible. I can only imagine what it would be like to win an Olympic gold medal. That would be very special but I know that it will take some doing."
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