Froome says he expects a great atmosphere at the 2016 edition of the Tour de France after trouble with fans on the roadside last year
Froome is lining up on Saturday in Normandy to try for his third title. On Thursday at the Mecure hotel, just 500 metres away from Omaha Beach where allied forces landed on D-Day, he met with press.
“Hopefully it’ll be in the same way that we were received a couple of weeks ago in the [Critérium du] Dauphiné; there was a great atmosphere there,” Froome said to a small room packed with journalists.
“This is the biggest race for us and the biggest race in our calendar. We love being here and we love racing in France.”
Froome’s former teammate Richie Porte was punched after helping his captain to win at La Pierre-Saint-Martin last year. Days later on the stage to Mende, Froome described how someone through a “small cup of urine” and yelled “doper” at him.
Watch: Tour de France 2016 – The Contenders
The tension and fears appeared to grow around the race and Sky. In the later stages, armed French police stood around the Sky bus before and after the stages against possible troublemakers.
In France, and around the world, a much larger fear has developed after the terrorists attacks in Paris last November that left 130 dead. Another round in Brussels in March, killed 32.
After the Brussels bombings, Belgian race organisers upped security around their races. The Tour organiser ASO announced this week that in addition to the 23,000 police, the GIGN force with a special anti-terrorism branch will help protect its race. Froome said that he is thinking about the race first.
“We are here at the start, we haven’t seen any additional personnel here or anything like that,” Froome explained.
“Our focus is on the race, what you mentioned there is something that’s happening behind the scenes. We didn’t come here thinking about it, our focus is on our race.”
“It’s been good for me to change it up and have a different focus. It has been different, and I’m glad that we took that approach, hopefully that will carry me well in the third week.
“That is something that I made as a personal goal, to be stronger than ever in the past in the third week of this year’s edition,” added Froome.
“More specifically, it’s delaying the reach of peak form. In previous seasons, in the spring I had already been at that shape and then just trying to hang to it. I have only really just got there now.
“In this period, I feel that I’ve reached that level again. I hope that means I can hang on to it longer this time and as you say, on to Rio as well.
“Many people will be looking at the last week given it’s so heavy-loaded in the mountains, stages 17, 18 and 20. Anyone wanting to make up time, those will be good opportunities. For who is defending, that will be one of the toughest challenges in four back to back days like that.”
The race starts with several flat stages in Normandy and then heads to the south, where Sky said that it could already try to attack in the crosswinds to help gain time and deliver Froome to a third victory.