Chris Froome is doing less to achieve more in 2016, say Team Sky. Froome just won the Critérium du Dauphiné, but immediately ahead he has planned the Tour de France in July and in August, the Olympics and Vuelta a España – which is why he pedalled into the year softer than normal.
The Tour de France favourite, having already won twice in 2013 and 2015, won the Herald Sun Tour in February, a stage in the Tour de Romandie and the overall in the Dauphiné last week. It may have seemed just as busy as last year's Tour lead-up, but it was not.
"He should be good for the Tour and the Olympic road race, he didn't race a lot," Sports Director Nicolas Portal told Cycling Weekly. "Last year, he was always at the races going for the GC, then the Tour."
"After, he also wants to do the Vuelta, so he wants to start the Tour fresh as if he is starting the season. This year compared to last, he's spent much more time in training camps. He did less. He did the Sun Tour, and stayed in Australia for three weeks. He was also in South Africa for a long time before starting the European season."
The 31-year-old Brit cut the traditional appearance at either Tirreno-Adriatico/Paris-Nice in mid-March from his schedule. He went to the Volta a Catalunya, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and to the Tour de Romandie.
"He didn't look great on TV in Catalunya, but I think he did the best one ever," Portal said. "He was there at 20 seconds on that last climb, holding off Contador and Quintana, but he just missed that speed.
“He was good in Romandie, he won a stage and escaped in another, but just not at his best. Now the big block starts: to win the Dauphiné, then going on to do the same in the Tour, Olympics and Vuelta."
The Tour de France starts July 2 and runs for three weeks. Afterwards, Froome will barely have time to recover for the Olympics two weeks later on August 6 and the start of the three-week Vuelta on August 20. After a hard Dauphiné, he is training and tuning his engine for the big block ahead.
"Froome went hard each day in the Dauphiné and finished each stage going deep. Now he will recover and his body will go to another level for the Tour.
Watch: Pro bike of 2016 Chris Froome
"Chris is going well. He needs to improve overall, hold higher speeds for longer times. In the Dauphiné, maybe he was going at 10 to 15 minutes, but for the Tour, maybe he wants to go 20 to 25 minutes, but not at the same intensity.
"He can win two Grand Tours, but you need to have most of the others in the same condition. He needs to face Contador, Quintana...the majority of rivals from the Tour, but if he gets five fresh guys who didn't race the Tour, then that changes things. That's harder."
Froome just completed his last stage previews for the Tour. A Twitter photograph on Wednesday showed him hiking around a landslide so that he could complete the Col del la Ramaz descent on stage 20 with the Joux Plane and finish in Morzine.
He also rode the mountain time trial and the climb to Saint-Gervais. After some down time in Monaco, he will travel to the Tour to see if his preparation pays off.
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