He joined team-mate Geraint Thomas and Jonathan Castroviejo riding around 120 kilometres of stage nine of the 2018 Tour de France. The ninth stage July 15 will cover 21.7 kilometres of pavé over 15 sectors and finish in Roubaix, where the famous one-day Classic closes each year.
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Froome told Cycling Weekly that his results so far in 2018 are not the “be all and end all” with the Tour nearing, but also the Giro d’Italia beforehand this May.
The Roubaix stage is expected to be as crucial as the 2018 Tour’s three summit finishes and two time trials. The last time the Tour featured such massive amounts of pavé was in the 2015 edition which Froome won. Cobbles also appeared the year before in 2014, when Froome abandoned before reaching them due to crashes and Italian Vincenzo Nibali won the overall.
Froome wants to be ready to race assuming a tribunal clears his case salbutamol and Tour organiser ASO does not block him from racing, a possibility reported overnight.
Thomas is aiming for the Tour de France later this July 7 to 29 too. Unlike Froome, he will parachute in to race the Paris-Roubaix Monument on April 8. He said in an earlier interview that his aim is to help Ian Stannard and Gianni Moscon, but also prepare for the Tour.
The Welshman helped Froome over the cobbles on Wednesday. The sectors range from 900 to 2700 metres, including those famous ones that often decide Paris-Roubaix. Thomas is also reconnoitring the cobbles again on Thursday under the rain.
Froome will return to altitude at Tenerife after finishing the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race last week. He is building for the Giro d’Italia this May 4 to 27, but beforehand he will race the Tour of the Alps.
He lost time on the summit finish to Sassotetto and finished 11th in the time trial stage, closing the race 31st overall.
“You can read into it,” Froome told Cycling Weekly.
“At the same time there are some riders like Vincenzo Nibali, for example, who doesn’t show much before his big objectives, you don’t normally see him winning a lot of races, but then he’ll pitch up at the race that he’s really targeting and he’ll be in top shape anyway.
“You can read what you want, but it’s not the be all and end all.”
He said this is a slower build up to the Giro because he has the Tour de France afterwards. It is based on the model that saw him win the Tour and Vuelta a España in 2017.
“Looking at the Tour and Vuelta last year, I had a little slower build up and I think this year is going to be similar in that since, hopefully, once I get up to speed, I’ll be able to hold it for a bit longer.”
Froome is escaping the rains of northern Europe for Spain’s Tenerife island to train at altitude. He will be there for two to two and a half weeks.
“I already did one block up there before [Tirreno-Adriatico] and I’ve spent a lot of time in the winter up at altitude in Johannesburg as well in South Africa. Always topping up with altitude is helpful,” Froome explained.
“I’ll be doing a lot more specific work when I’m there, more focus on intensity, where until now it’s been a lot of miles and getting the base work in for the season ahead. I think I’ve laid a good platform and I need to build on that now, which is what I’ll do in this next period.”
In the background, Froome and his lawyers are working with the UCI’s Legal Anti-Doping Services (LADS) to sort out all documents before a judge will hear his case. He tested for twice the allowed limit of asthma drug salbutamol in the Vuelta a España on September.
“It’s never easy with all that going on at the moment, but we are getting there,” Froome added. “The process is going ahead and hopefully we are making progress there.”