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Chris Froome has revealed he has trained explicitly to escape declining and losing time to his rivals in the decisive week of the Tour de France.

Photo: A.S.O.

CHRIS FROOME

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01.07.2016 @ 10:35 Posted by Jesper Ralbjerg

While Froome (SKY) won the Tour in 2013 and 2015 he had to concede significant quantities of time to nearest challenger Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in the mountain stages in the third week of racing on both occasions.

 

Three years ago Froome conceded more than two and half minutes to Quintana on stages 18, 19 and 20, while last year he surrendered 1min 58sec on stages 19 and 20 and acknowledged afterwards that he had "died a thousand deaths" in his quest to preserve the yellow jersey.

 

Keeping in mind Quintana's ability to hold form and the fact that this year's final week features four tough stages in the Alps, Froome is determined not to relive the stay in the Colombian's torture chamber.

 

"I have made it a personal goal of mine to really try to focus on that third week and be better than I have been in the past. It's certainly going to be racing all the way up until stage 20 for us, with stage 17, 18, 19 and 20 being extremely hard days for the general classification riders," Froome told Sky Sports.

 

Quintana enters this year's Tour as the bookmakers' second favourite following a splendid season that saw him triumph in the Volta a Catalunya, Tour de Romandie and Route du Sud. Moreover, Quintana will seek solace in the fact that the two time trials, on stages 13 and 18, are hilly rather than flat.

 

Froome himself didn’t hesitate to single out Quintana as his most fearsome rival, neglecting to point to Contador (Tinkoff) and Porte (BMC) as other potential candidates for the podium.

 

 "Right now, I would probably have to go with Nairo Quintana [as the main rival], given that he finished runner-up to me both times that I have won the Tour de France. He is more motivated than ever this year and it is a course that suits him incredibly well. It's a pure climbers' course. We have got a couple of time trials, but they are not flat; they are tough, they are hilly, which means that a climber will go well on them."

 

The opening two stages of this year's Tour will be fought out on the Normandy coast, and with wind and rain forecast, Froome knows he has to remain attentive at all times.

 

"A lot of the racing up here will depend on the weather on the day, the wind conditions. We could be in for a very nervous start. At least the first three days are going to be extremely nervous - fighting and jostling for position. With us we have got Ian Stannard, Luke Rowe and Vasil Kiryienka, who will hopefully keep us safe and out of trouble."

 

The Tour starts with a flat first stage from Mont-Saint-Michel to Saint-Marie-du-Mont on Saturday and ends in Paris on Sunday, July 24.

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