Cycling

Chris Froome feeling good ahead of Tour de France defence

Porte helped Froome win the Tour last summer. (©GettyImages)
Porte helped Froome win the Tour last summer. (©GettyImages).

Chris Froome says he is ahead of schedule with his Tour de France preparations despite a spring that has been hindered by a back injury and a chest infection.

The Team Sky lead rider won his second successive Tour of Romandie title on Sunday after climbing away from Tour rival Vincenzo Nibali on the mountain stage and winning the individual time trial on the final day of the Tour.

"I am ahead of where I was last year at the same time," Froome was quoted as saying in French sports daily L'Equipe on Monday.

"But I still have a lot of work. I am going back to Tenerife to... gain power and lose weight."

Tony Kerrison, Froome's coach, is of the same mind when comparing the Briton's current shape to where he was 12 months ago.

"He is at least as well as last year. In the last training camp, he was at a higher level," Kerrison told the paper.

Last year's Tour de France winner suffered a difficult early season as he was forced out of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege last month after having already missed the scheduled Tirreno-Adriatico in March due to ongoing problems with his back.

Froome will now be looking forward to his last race before he will defend his Tour title which is the Criterium du Dauphine, taking place from June 8-15. The Tour de France takes off in Leeds, England on July 5.

Meanwhile, Froome's Sky teammate Richie Porte had to abandon his fourth consecutive race when he pulled out of the Tour of Romandie on the penultimate stage.

Porte, whose efforts as Froome's lieutenant were crucial at last year's Tour de France, has been suffering from the aftereffects of an illness which forced him out of the Tirreno-Adriatico in March.

Since then, the Australian has abandoned at the Volta a Catalunya, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Romandie. 

Things are looking up, however, according to Sky's head of performance Kerrison.

“This illness is affecting him in the long term, he is getting better, he is well trained, but it will be very important to identify what we need to do to put things in the right direction,” Kerrison said.

Porte's season started according to plan when he won a stage at the Tour Down Under and rode a good Vuelta a Andalucia that saw him finish second in the overall classification.

The Australian was meant to lead Sky at the upcoming Giro d'Italia but the team opted to pull him from the grand tour after he abondoned at Tirreno and Catalunya.

It is now not certain who will lead Sky at the Giro starting later this week.

Porte will now focus solely on helping Froome reclaim his Tour title in July and the team and the rider know that there is room for improvement.

“He still has a lot of work to do, but his motivation remains high,” said Kerrison. “He is not at the level where he should be and he knows it.”

Porte's only race before he takes on the gruelling climbs of the Tour is the Criterium du Dauphine which he will ride along with Froome in June.

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Topics:
Cycling
Tour De France

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