Chris Froome (Team Sky) says that he faces a tougher challenge than ever before to win the Critérium du Dauphiné as he goes in search of a record fourth victory in the vital Tour de France warm-up race.
Froome headlines a star-studded start list, and will be challenged by the likes of Richie Porte (BMC Racing), Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale), Fabio Aru (Astana), and Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott).
“I think the line-up of riders at the Dauphine is particularly impressive this year in terms of GC contenders and other Tour rivals, so it should be a big test and a real challenge,” Froome said.
“I’m going there hoping to win, but I’m fully conscious that I’m going up against some very strong competition – probably stronger competition than I’ve had at previous editions of the Dauphiné – so I’m certainly not taking anything for granted.”
Nicholas Portal, who will be Team Sky‘s sports director at the race, also said that Froome will face a serious challenge if he is to win the race for a third successive edition.
Watch: Critérium du Dauphiné essential guide
“There is always a good field of Tour de France contenders at the Dauphiné and that’s definitely the case this year with riders like Porte, Bardet, Valverde and Contador. They will all be coming here in good form,” Portal said.
“It’s a good, challenging course with a mix of different types of stages, so it will be a proper test for Chris. We’ve got a good group of guys here and we’ll be racing for the win.”
Froome will be at the head of an eight-rider Sky team, most of whom have been at a training camp at altitude in Tenerife over the last few weeks.
Also included in the team, which could give a glimpse at the team’s possible Tour line-up, are Christian Knees, Michal Kwiatkowski, and David Lopez.