By Jonny Long
Chris Froome says he's closer to where he needs to be before this summer's Tour de France, his first French Grand Tour since 2018, and that his most recent block of training at altitude in Tenerife has seen him surpass the level he's exhibited so far this season.
In a YouTube video on his channel, Froome gives a look around where he's been spending a few weeks training at altitude ahead of both the Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour. The amenities are basic, the guesthouse's proprietors having to manually fill the water tank on the roof after it broke down - a recent press conference held by Froome also having a sharp cut-off at 10pm because that was when the electricity cut out for the night.
Froome takes us through the meticulous detail of what training he is doing and why, showing us a day out on the bike with a handful of his Israel Start-Up Nation team-mates, taking in 5,000m of climbing on a day split between quality work followed by a depletion ride.
The next day, Froome rides to the north of the island to tackle some sharp ramps the 36-year-old playfully calls "the steepest climb in the world" as he zig-zags up the horrendous gradients.
"Those ramps...you've got to go pretty hard just to get up them and you can never see the top either," Froome says. "Just when you get to the top of one you get around the corner and the road just kicks up again. Gradients over 25, 30 per cent probably.
"Was a bit of a nasty surprise for the guys to finish off the training camp but they'll thank me for it in July."
Next up for Froome will be the Critérium du Dauphiné, beginning on Sunday May 30, before another two-week training camp in the lead-up to the Tour de France at the end of June.
"I really feel that block at altitude has had a big impact on me, I felt I was able to take a big step up there," Froome says, evaluating how he's feeling heading into this crucial part of the season for him. "I'm certainly feeling closer to where I need to be compared to where I was previously this season.
"This is an opportunity to test my legs on a challenging course and see how much progress I have made in the past month," Froome added of the upcoming Dauphiné.
After returning home from the altitude camp, Froome says he's been keeping up with the Giro d'Italia, and that the 2021 Italian Grand Tour is one of those races he's glad he's not racing.
"I've been watching the Giro a little bit these past few days, Egan [Bernal] has been destroying the field. He showed a little bit of weakness yesterday but nothing I don't think a good evening meal won't fix," he said.
"It's been a shocker of a race to watch, one of those were you think 'glad I'm not there' because the weather has just looked miserable and the conditions have been rough. If Egan manages to hold on to it, it will be a special win for him."
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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