His World Championships goal restored Chris Froome’s drive after winning the Tour de France. He leads the Great Britain team tomorrow during the elite men’s road race in Florence but calls himself “a long shot”.
“The World Championship has been the surprising driving force for me, to try to be ready for this road race,” Chris Froome said in conference call. “I haven’t felt quite the same way about it as I have about the Tour. Also given that it is a one-day race, it’s quite a gamble, it is a bit of a long shot to go for the win there. Having said that, I’m up for it. I know I’ve done the training.”
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Froome unplugged after his Tour de France victory by going to Colorado to train for the US Pro Cycling Challenge and the two Canadian one-day races. Racing and training at altitude far from Europe pulled him away from the distractions.
“On the back of the Tour and all that, it definitely has been harder to get back into it and I’ve found there have been a lot more distractions since I have been going again,” Froome continued. “A lot of things happening in the background, a lot of talks with sponsors and obviously hundreds of requests to do charity events and other kind of corporate events and things like that. Colorado was definitely the right thing to do because it kind of took me away from most of the distractions and I was able to get a good block of training.”
He trained specifically for the Worlds race tomorrow, 272.26 kilometres from Lucca and around the hills of Florence. The repetition of climbs offer Grand Tour riders like Froome and Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) a shot at the rainbow jersey. His problem, however, is that the race does not end on a summit like Mont Ventoux, but with a downhill run off of Via Salviati and a flat final metres. Great Britain will need to work to drop riders like Peter Sagan (Slovakia) and Philippe Gilbert (Belgium), one-day riders with a sprint.
“I’m not exactly very punchy or explosive, I don’t think, when it comes to a bunch sprint or a final kick. So if I am to win, I’m going to have to try and go clear on possibly the last couple of laps,” Froome explained. “Having said that, stranger things than that have happened after 280 kilometres when even if it does come to a sprint, it’s very much still about who’s got legs. You can be explosive and fast but if you don’t have the legs, it’s not going to help you any more. It’s going to boil down to whoever has the legs after 280 kilometres.
“We’re still going to have to sit down with all the guys and come up with the best strategy possible for us. Taking on the race and trying to make it the hardest race possible and try to isolate the other sprinters and make it more of a climber’s race, that’s the way we’ll push for it. There’ll be a few other races in a similar position, thinking along the same lines as us.”
The weather could make the race much harder. Forecasts show further clouds and rain moving in around 7:00. If Froome survives and wins, he would become the first Tour-Worlds double winner since Greg LeMond in 1989. He said, “I’m definitely up for the Worlds and giving it the best shot possible.”