Chris Froome needs to prove to himself, his team and his rivals that he’s in peak condition at next week’s Critérium du Dauphiné, according to Stephen Roche, after a somewhat lacklustre start to the season.
The Team Sky rider won the Ruta del Sol back in February, but Roche points to his form since then – notably at the Volta a Catalunya and Tour de Romandie – as not meeting expectation.
Froome returns to the Dauphiné, starting on Sunday, looking to win Team Sky’s fourth title in the past five years and Roche expects him to top the general classification ahead to show his form ahead of the Tour de France.
Writing in his skysports.com column, the former triple crown winner said: “[Froome’s] performance at the Volta a Catalunya in March was one of the worst I can remember from him, and he still wasn’t up to speed at the Tour de Romandie in April, when he finish third behind two riders you would normally expect him to beat.
“Next week’s Dauphine, therefore, is a race at which he needs to prove to himself, his team and his rivals that he is over his troubles and back in peak condition.
“Historically, he has always been somewhere near his best at this race, winning it in 2013 and then leading overall in 2014 until a crash led to him eventually finishing 12th.
“If he is still off the pace at the Dauphine alarm bells may start ringing for the Tour, but I don’t expect him to be and, looking at the start list, he is my tip to win.”
Froome faces stiff competition if he is to triumph in the Dauphiné, with Tour de France rivals Vincenzo Nibali and Joaquim Rodriguez also lining up.
Movistar will be led by Alejandro Valverde, while their Tour de France leader Nairo Quintana heads to the Route du Sud, alongside Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador.