Chris Froome (Team Sky) will target the Tour de France and Rio Olympic Games road race in 2016 but the defence of his Tour crown remains the principle focus for the coming campaign. The British rider won his second Tour in three years in July and on Tuesday in Paris was presented with a more favourable route than the one he demolished three months ago, with a shade more individual time trialing and a stage finish on Ventoux where he laid the foundations for his 2013 win.
“It’s a parcours that tests every aspect of professional cycling,” Froome said after the route presentation. “You’re going to have to be able to time trial, climb extremely well and descend properly. In the first week I can imagine that crosswinds are going to be quite prevalent as well. You’re going to need a team to protect you there also.”
This time last year Froome issued a statement on his personal website questioning his participation in the 2015 and suggesting that the Giro d’Italia would be part of his programme. Whether that open pondering was anything more than a threat or urge for ASO to prepare a more time trial friendly course remains unclear but in Paris on Tuesday he was at least offered a route slightly more favourable to the 2015 edition.
The cobbles of 2014 and 2015 – terrain in which Froome actually excelled this year – have been removed but so too as the team trial and prologue. Instead the race will open with a series of demanding road stages as the race heads from north to south and the first mountain stages in the Pyrenees with a climactic stage to Andorra on stage 9. The 37 kilometre time trial on stage 13 comes a day after the summit finish to Mont Ventoux, while the next time trial to Megeve on stage 18 offers the climbers a fighting chance of limiting their losses with a testing uphill parcours. The 2016 route is one that suits Froome but Vincenzo Nibali, Alberto Contador, and Nairo Quintana, will all see their own opportunities.
For Froome the aim is to defend his crown – a feat no rider has done since Miguel Indurain in the 1990s.
“It’s hugely important,” Froome said when asked how crucial it will be to repeat his 2015 title.
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