While many of his Grand Tour rivals are currently racing, Chris Froome is putting in a block of hard training instead

Chris Froome prefers hard training over early season races in his quest for a fourth Tour de France title. Races like the Tour Down Under or this week’s Abu Dhabi Tour are “too easy” for his preparations.

Froome is wrapping up a two-week block of altitude training this weekend in Pilgrim’s Rest, South Africa, with team-mate Geraint Thomas. The idea, just like in past years, is that this specific intense training will launch them towards their respective goals in the Tour and the Giro d’Italia.

Due to his needs and the timing of the altitude training camps, Froome must skip some races. Certain races would not only distract him, but could be detrimental in his Tour build up.

“Chris Froome had always planned on the Sun Tour,” Sports Director Brett Lancaster told Cycling Weekly.

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“The Tour Down Under is too easy for him, [the Abu Dhabi Tour] is too easy for him.

“He’s in South Africa now getting a big altitude block. It’s always his plan, you can’t change that. Too ‘easy’ in Abu Dhabi? Yeah, the way he trains, he’d lose form here.”

Froome began his season in Australia with a small one-day race in Melbourne and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. He then raced the Herald Sun Tour.

Just as in the past years, he squeezed in an early-season altitude camp. Over the last few years, he has been joined by team-mates Wout Poels, Ian Boswell and now, Thomas in South Africa.

Chris Froome on stage three of the 2017 Jayco Herald Sun Tour. Photo: Graham Watson

Froome usually travels to Tenerife for another altitude camp in late May or early June. They sleep at 2,165 metres and train on the volcano and seaside below.

With coach Tim Kerrison, he has a plan to reach certain training kilometres, watts and hours. In a race, he would be forced to ride his rivals’ rhythm.

“What I saw at the Sun Tour, he was always riding home after the stage to get extra kilometres. Just his bigger block of volume,” added Lancaster. “That’s for his long term goal, the Tour and the Vuelta after that.”

The only thing Froome may lack is race sharpness. He could suffer in the first days back when he races in the Volta a Catalunya, March 20, but considering his palmarès, he should adjust quickly.

Some organisers pay the price. RCS Sport, which organises the Giro d’Italia, would have liked one of Sky’s top stars like Froome, Thomas or Mikel Landa to race its Abu Dhabi Tour this week. Most other classification men are here, including Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

Due to its camps and some health problems, Sky only fielded six men in the Abu Dhabi Tour. The other teams not only fielded eight men, but with some of their leading Grand Tour riders.