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Chris Froome: 'The Tour de France is a special event and every year is unique'

The reigning Tour de France champion on hunting a fourth yellow jersey and a possible 2017 Vuelta double

Mark Bailey
23 Jun 2017

We caught up with Chris Froome ahead of the 2017 Tour de France as he prepares to defend his title and gain a fourth overall win.

Cyclist: With three Tour de France wins already, how do you motivate yourself for more pain and suffering this year?

Chris Froome: What brings me back year on year is that the Tour is such a special race. After going through thick and thin with my teammates, when you get to wear that yellow jersey it is such an amazing feeling that you want to do it all over again.

It is such a really special event and every year is unique.

Cyc: After your 2016 win, when did you start preparing for the 2017 Tour campaign?

CF: I didn’t get much time out because by late December I was in full training mode again. I did take Christmas day off and spent it with my wife [Michelle] and son [Kellan], just the three of us.

We had a nice relaxed day at home and a nice big, late Christmas lunch which was perfect. We don’t have days like that very often, when we can just switch off completely, so it was lovely. Really nice.

Cyc: How important is family support for pro cyclists, given the sacrifices you have to make?

CF: Massive, massive, massive. If I was with someone who wasn’t so independent I would really have a battle in that sense because a lot of the time Michelle is by herself.

She even helps me a lot in terms of all my organisation off the bike so I can focus my mind on training and the performance side of things.

I don’t tend to give a lot of my energy to everything else because she helps with that support structure behind the scenes. Michelle is great at all that. A huge help.

Cyc: How do you build up your form and fitness during the season?

CF: Races at the start of the year, like the Sun Tour in Australia, are low-key, but are by no means easy. There is tough racing every day but that is what I want from the start.

I want to be suffering and struggling to be up front, and that is what pushes me on and progresses my form and condition as the months go by.

Cyc: Do you rely much on training camps?

CF: I did a camp earlier this year in South Africa in the mountains of Mpumalanga north of Johannesburg and we were up there for two to three weeks before we came back to Europe to do races.

We don’t get much down time to be honest. Even on training camps we might only come home from riding at 3-4pm, then you have a meal, change, get a massage and the day is pretty much done.

After dinner you are pretty nailed so there is just enough time to chat with family and then go to bed.

Cyc: Have you changed your training methods for this year’s Tour de France?

CF: I haven’t been changing a lot this year from last year. I have found a programme and a structure that works for me and I have stuck to that.

There are some small tweaks to training I have been doing, just in terms of doing different efforts to keep things fresh.

I have worked on that with my coach Tim Kerrison. But I am taking a very similar approach to last year because that seems to work OK for me.

Cyc: Given your success and status as the Tour favourite today, is it strange to remember your younger years when you were frantically emailing pro teams looking for a contract?

CF: At that time I felt as if I was clutching at straws, just trying to find some way to get onto the professional scene.

In a way I am quite grateful that I was able to make it into the professional scene but I put that down to being as determined as I was in those earlier years.

There are hundreds of cyclists back in Africa who wanted to turn professional but never made it across.

Cyc: Are you tempted to go for a Tour and Vuelta double this year?

CF: I think the Vuelta is really appealing to me. I am not confirmed to do it but if all goes to plan I would love to be on the start line.

Without the Olympics this year, the Tour and the Vuelta are four weeks apart so it is still tricky. But without the Olympics it could be a lot more doable this year to get there in competitive shape.

Cyc: What do you think of the Vuelta a Espana route?

It is a great mix of everything this year. There are lots of mountains but they also include a 40km time-trial which is quite flat and balances the race out a lot.

To me, GC riding is always something that should be for the best all-rounder: the guy who can climb and do time-trials and be the complete package should win a Grand Tour.

It feels like the Vuelta route this year brings out that competitive side.