PARIS (AFP) — Tour de France champion Chris Froome sent an ominous warning to his rivals after seeing the route for next year’s edition on Tuesday, saying it suits him better.
Sky’s Froome won this year’s race by 1:12 over Movistar rider Nairo Quintana, but he thinks next year’s route will favor him.
“It certainly suits me better than this [year’s] Tour did,” said a delighted Froome. “This year obviously went really well for us, it’s great that it’s a well-rounded Tour next year.”
In the immediate aftermath of last year’s announcement, Froome questioned whether he would even ride the 2015 Tour, saying it favored specialist climbers. But he gradually warmed to the route and eventually triumphed in July after proving the most able to handle a multitude of challenges that saw all his main rivals lose time at unexpected moments.
“It’s not necessarily that I was disappointed with the lack of time-trialing, but more that I was disappointed that, to me, the Tour de France has always been a race that needs to challenge every aspect of a rider,” explained the 30-year-old.
“You’re not just going to get a pure climber or a pure time-trialist winning it. It always has been a race for me that the best all-round rider can win, so next year’s route is definitely much more that kind of Tour.”
One of the key stages will be the 12th on Bastille Day (July 14), which finishes on Mont Ventoux, and Froome sees a positive sign in that.
I won the stage in yellow on Bastille Day in 2013 & 2015… Good omen I hope!
— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) October 20, 2015
He won the stage 15 finish on Mont Ventoux in 2013, when he won his first of two Tour titles, and was also victorious this year on July 14 when the first mountain stage finished at La Pierre-Saint Martin.
Froome was not the only one celebrating, as two-time Tour champion Alberto Contador also saw good signs in the route.
Montainous Tour from the start with2 hard ITT. Beautiful,attractive,that encouraged me,from today thinking on it! pic.twitter.com/XHn0zCgii7
— Alberto Contador (@albertocontador) October 20, 2015
With the route generally considered more balanced than this year’s edition, with more chances for the sprinters, there were smiles amongst the men with bulky thighs as well.
Although Briton Mark Cavendish, a winner of 26 Tour stages in his career, was still daunted.
“The whole race is relentless — to go after a few days into the Massif Central and then the Pyrenees. … I look at it now and it scares me!” said Cavendish, who will ride for Dimension Data next season.
German Andre Greipel was the top sprinter of this year’s race, winning four stages, including the final one on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
“There are no easy stages in the Tour de France but I’m happy that the first stage is going to be a possibility for the sprinters,” the Lotto-Soudal rider said.
The first stage from Mont Saint-Michel to Utah Beach is pan flat and should end in a bunch sprint, meaning a sprinter could start the second stage in the race leader’s yellow jersey, just as Marcel Kittel did in 2013 and 2014.
That’s the aim for Cavendish, who has never enjoyed the honor of wearing the yellow jersey, although he’s donned the race leader’s jersey at the other two grand tours, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana.
“It’s very important to try for the yellow jersey on the first day,” Cavendish said. “It’s great that they give the opportunity for the sprinters to wear the yellow jersey.
“Obviously it hasn’t played out for me the last two times I’ve gone for it, but it would be nice to try in the first stage in a bunch sprint.”