By Gregor Brown
Chris Froome (Sky) tested the World Championships circuit on Wednesday in Florence following his Tour de France victory, he said that his next big prize would be taking cycling's rainbow jersey on September 29.
"Winning the yellow and rainbow jerseys would be an incredible double," he said in a team statement after his Tour win. "I've focused on the Tour up until now but being the world champion, that's probably the second biggest prize in cycling."
Not since 1989 with Greg LeMond, has a cyclist won the Tour-Worlds double. Italian newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport wrote today about Froome's "secret blitz" to become a world champion. To prepare, Froome travelled to Tuscany with his fiancée Michele Cound on Tuesday and stayed in a "luxurious" hotel in Fiesole. Cound posted on Instagram a photo of Froome relaxing in Tuscany the same day. Froome relaxing (via Instagram)
Fiesole, north of Florence, is an ideal location as sits on the main climb in the 16.57-kilometre circuit. The Fiesole climb rises 4.3 kilometres and leaves 10.5 kilometres and two shorter, sharper climbs. The Via Salviati, 600 metres long and five kilometres out, touches 18% and Trento, 200 metres at 2.8 kilometres out, rises to 10%.
Froome left the hotel on Wednesday morning and met former professional and 1965 Flèche Wallonne winner, Roberto Poggiali. Poggiali ushered Froome around the circuit twice. They probably connected thanks to Sky team-mate, Salvatore Puccio. The Italian won the Under 23 Tour of Flanders with Poggiali as his sports director.
"The first time around, he was mostly behind my scooter," Poggiali told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The second time, he paid more attention to his gear ratios and pushed himself harder."
Froome said the course was hard but very beautiful, according to Poggiali. With the first leg from Lucca, the race covers 272.5 kilometres and climbs 3373 metres. Its difficulty recalls the Hamilton circuit in 2003 or the 1996 Worlds in Lugano.
"The World Championships is an event that doesn't often favour climbers like the way it does this year," Froome explained in July, "so it'd be a great opportunity to go for that."
To prepare, besides Wednesday's reconnaissance, Froome will race the Tour of Colorado from August 19 to 25. Afterwards, he may fit in another stage race or some one-day events.
The World Championships week kicks off on Sunday, September 22 with the men and women's team time trails. Froome might form part of Sky's team. In the national events, Bradley Wiggins plans to race the individual time trial on Wednesday and Froome, assuming he is selected to do so, will head team Great Britain in the road race on Sunday.
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