Chris Froome has downplayed the potential for a destructive rivalry at Team Sky between himself and Geraint Thomas in 2016, saying that he does not see the Welshman as a threat to his ambition to win a third Tour de France this summer.
After enjoying a breakthrough Tour in 2015, Thomas has made his intentions clear to focus on stage racing and target the general classification at the Tour as a protected rider this season.
However, Froome believes that there will be no repeat of 2012 and 2013, when the relationship between him and Bradley Wiggins deteriorated following the pair’s one-two at the 2012 Tour de France.
“I find it very hard to see things with G [Geraint Thomas] going that way. I think, just the both of our characters, we’re both pretty open and honest with each other,” Froome said at Sky’s 2016 training camp in Majorca.
“In every team you’ve got little arguments with the guys around you and that’s great, that’s only healthy that you have those arguments and you talk about what you think you can be doing better or what you’re not doing.”
When asked whether he was confident the pair could weather any future rifts, he replied: “I think just being generally just open with each other, that would help kill any issues before they arise.”
Froome explained that it would “be the dream” if Thomas could accompany him to the podium in Paris this July, adding that the pair’s relationship, which stretches back to the Barloworld team in 2008, would make any shared success even more special.
“G and I have been racing together since 2008, when I joined Barloworld and G had been there for a year, so we do go back quite a long way now,” Froome said. “Not as long or far back as the guys on the [British Cycling] Academy or anything but it’s quite a special feeling to have both been one of the founding riders of Team Sky.”
With the departure of close friend, training partner and super-domestique Richie Porte to BMC, Froome expects Thomas to fulfil much of the same role this season. Both live in Monaco and have regularly trained together this winter, with Thomas’s recent improvements helping to spur him on.
“[Geraint is] not a threat,” Froome said. “It’s good for me that there’s someone right there snapping at my heels, that if I’m not up to delivering the goods then someone else will. It’s good pressure on me.”