Sky manager Dave Brailsford does not believe Chris Froome’s lack of pedigree in one-day racing will work against him as he seeks to win gold in the men’s road race at the Rio 2016 Olympics, on a parcours that the Tour de France winner has described as 'savage.'
Froome lines out in Saturday’s race as one of the principal favourites for victory, alongside Alejandro Valverde (Spain) and Vincenzo Nibali (Italy), though his status owes more to his Tour-winning form and the difficulty of the course than his track record in one-day races.
"I don't think his lack of one-day experience will count against him. We saw in the Tour a very much more aggressive Chris taking his opportunities,” Brailsford told Sky Sports.
Froome is joined in the British quintet by Sky teammates Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard, as well as Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) and Steve Cummings (Dimension Data).
"What those guys do well is they wait, they are patient, they know when to go, when to use their energy and when to hold back a little bit, and I think Chris has developed that a lot in his riding, so I think he will be a force to be reckoned with,” Brailsford said.
Froome visited Rio de Janeiro last November in order to reconnoitre both the road and time trial courses, and saw enough on that occasion to make the Olympic Games one of his principal targets of the 2016 season.
The Tour winner arrived in Brazil earlier this week after racing the RideLondon Classic last Sunday. He tackled the stiff Vista Chinesa climb and its sinuous descent for a final time on Thursday in the company of his British teammates, and he highlighted the difficulty of the course.
“I’m definitely a bit nervous as we get closer to race day now,” Froome told Sky News. “It’s a pretty savage course but I’m looking forward to it though. I think we’ve got a great team and hopefully we’re in with a good shot.”
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Cummings was initially left out of the British team but then added to the line-up when Pete Kennaugh gave up his berth, citing a lack of form. Buoyed by a stage victory at the Tour, Cummings is likely to be charged with policing the early moves, and he warned that there was no guarantee that the race would only be decided on the three laps of the finishing circuit over Vista Chinesa.
“This climb is really hard, it’s a real climber’s climb and the favourites are probably the climbers,” Cumming said. “But everyone knows that and not everyone’s a climber, so it’s going to make the race interesting because people are going to try early on. We have to have the race still in our hands by the time we arrive here.”
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Froome will have a second opportunity to win a medal in next Wednesday’s time trial, where he will again set out among the favourites, along with Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands). A bronze medallist in the discipline in London four years ago, Froome believes the hilly parcours suits his abilities.
"I think he has got a very strong chance. You don't know how your body is going to react after a Grand Tour and I think that will be the key thing to monitor,” Brailsford said. “I think if he time trials to the best of his ability in his current form, he will be right up there as one of the top favourites."