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‘Fresh’ Froome to race Dauphiné as part of traditional Tour approach

After skipping a title defense at the Giro, Froome is hopeful a strong Dauphiné will bode well for a run at a fifth yellow jersey

It’s back to the tried and true for Chris Froome (Ineos) and his approach toward the 2019 Tour de France.

Instead of coming off the intense effort of winning the Giro d’Italia, as he did last year, this season Froome rolls toward the Tour via the familiar Critérium du Dauphiné.

Last year, Froome spent June recovering from his dramatic Giro victory. For the past several weeks, he’s been living and training atop the Teide volcano in the Canary Islands. He now plans to finish his Tour build up with the Dauphiné, a race he’s won three times.

Froome is hoping the more traditional approach toward the Tour will open the door to a record-tying fifth yellow jersey next month.

“It’s so different to how I feel right now,” Froome said Thursday in a media release. “Hopefully I’ll be a lot fresher and more ready to race, as opposed to being on the back foot, trying to recover from the Giro.”

His calendar in 2019 is similar to what’s been the highly successful blueprint over the past several seasons, with select races and training camps building toward a July peak. Though he is winless so far in 2019, he is sticking to a familiar training and racing program to bring him into July with winning legs.

Last year, Froome changed the script and took on the challenge of racing the Giro. The bet paid off with his sixth grand tour title to complete the GT “grand slam,” with victories in all three grand tours, but it cost him in July. Froome was off his best, and teammate Geraint Thomas stormed to the yellow jersey, and Froome settled for third.

Going into last year’s Tour, Froome had won three grand tours in a row — the 2017 Tour, the 2017 Vuelta a España and the 2018 Giro — but this year, after skipping defenses at both the Vuelta and Giro, he’s back to a more traditional run into July.

By returning to basics, Froome is hopeful he will be ready to win the Tour one more time.

“This approach and build-up to July is something we’ve tried and tested quite a few times over the years now,” Froome said. “It was quite nice watching the Giro on TV and not racing.”

After a debut at the Colombian tour, where Froome admitted he might have gone too deep, all eyes have been on preparing for the best possible way for the Tour.

With starts at the Volta a Catalunya, the Tour of the Alps and the Tour de Yorkshire, Froome recently completed his second training camp at Teide, the popular high-altitude training site perched near the top of the Spanish volcano.

“I’m really happy with where I am at currently,” Froome said. “I was probably a bit eager earlier this season in Colombia and probably did a little too much.”

The Ineos captain lines up Sunday for the Dauphiné looking to prove to himself and everyone else he’s ready to challenge for a record-tying fifth yellow jersey.

As a winner of six grand tours, Froome has nothing to prove, but after an uneven spring that has raised questions heading into July, a strong Dauphiné performance will confirm he’s on track for a solid run at the Tour.

“I haven’t done much racing recently, but I’d like to be there fighting for the overall,” Froome said. “It’s hard to say where I’m going to be … I’m looking forward to pinning on some numbers at the Dauphiné.”

Each year he’s won the Dauphiné, he went on to win the Tour. Froome is hoping history will repeat itself at least one more time this summer.

Joining Froome at the Dauphiné a few riders that will likely be “Fortress Froome” in the Tour. Among the other starters are Vasil Kiryienka, Michal Kwiatkowski, Gianni Moscon, Wout Poels, Ian Stannard and Dylan Van Baarle.

Defending Dauphiné and Tour champ Thomas will race at the Tour de Suisse instead. It’s unsure if Egan Bernal, recovering from an injury that kept him out of the Giro, will race the Swiss tour before what’s expected to be a return ticket to the Tour for highly touted Colombian.