Relaxed Chris Froome aims to repeat 2013 success to dispel doubts

Team Sky rider's 2014 campaign begins in Oman, where last year he took first stage race victory

by Simon_MacMichael   February 15, 2014  

2013 Tour of Oman Stage 6 Chris Froome at start (© Bruno Bade:Muscat Muncipality)

Chris Froome says he is feeling under less pressure than he was 12 months ago as he prepares to get his season under way at the Tour of Oman, which starts on Tursday – but believes that only by repeating his achievements of 2013 can he remove any doubt that they were achieved cleanly.

It won’t escape some that only a little more than 12 months ago, Lance Armstrong confessed to having cheated his way to the seven Tour de France titles he had been stripped of in October 2012.

Armstrong's long-term dominance of the race and the scale of the fallout from the US Postal scandal meant that whoever won the Tour last year would have their performances questioned - and in Sky's case, similarities were darwn between the way they forced the pace on mountain stages and the way the American team did so a decade earlier.

But Froome, who last year succeeded team mate Sir Bradley Wiggins as champion of the sport’s biggest race says it’s only through repeating his victories of last year over time that he can prove he is clean, and that questions will remain if 2013 proves to be a one-off season for him.

Speaking to Teamsky.com, he said: “I want to back up everything I achieved last season and prove to people that I am a legitimate champion.

“Especially in this era of cycling, there’s so much doubt around what we’re doing and I sincerely want to prove to people they can believe in this sport again, believe in me, and believe in Team Sky.

“I hope last year’s not going to be a one-off for me because that would raise doubts.

“I want to back up my results for the next five years at least to prove that nothing was a fluke.

“My results will stand the test of time and I want to erase any doubt about them – that’s a massive motivation.”

Froome dominated all but one of the stage races he took part in last year – only Tirreno-Adriatico, where he finished runner-up to Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali eluded him.

But 12 months ago, as he lined up for the Tour of Oman last year, he had never even won a stage race.

What’s more, it was far from clear whether Wiggins would follow team orders and support him in the Tour de France.

A year on, the situation has changed on both fronts.

Currently, Froome is champion of both of those races, as well as the Critérium International, the Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné.

That dominant season began with his Tour of Oman victory, a race which gave him the first opportunity of the year to reinforce his credentials to win the Tour de France.

“I wouldn’t say I have the same kind of pressure that I had last year for Oman,” he said this week.

“I’m a lot more relaxed coming into this season, but at the same time I feel just as eager and just as motivated to get stuck into the racing. I’m really looking forward to getting back into it.

“Oman is always a place where you don’t quite have the same kind of pressure as in Europe in terms of the press and thousands of spectators.

“But it’s certainly going to be a high level of racing and from the competitors who are lining up there it’s shaping up to be a pretty tough race.

“I’ve felt good in training and I’m certainly hoping to have a good first outing.”

There appears to have been something in a thawing in his relationship with Wiggins over the winter too.

Froome’s apparent attack on his team leader in the 2012 Tour – he would finish second to Wiggins – was widely seen as reflecting a rivalry between the colleagues that had begun during the 2011 Vuelta.

Last year, Wiggins said he planned to defend his Tour de France title despite Braisford insisting Froome would lead Team Sky in the race.

Eventually, Wiggins was left out of the squad after abandoning the Giro d’Italia through illness, and then picking up a knee injury.

Last year’s Tour of Oman was the last time the pair rode together in Sky colours, and there programmes will keep them apart for the coming months,

July, however, could see Wiggins line up in Yorkshire as Froome begins the defence of his Tour de France title.

Wiggins told the Guardian: "I think Chris has earned the right to defend the Tour this year and I'd love to go back and play a part in that and not just sulk off and give up because I'm not the leader."

15 user comments

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Lance backed his first title up 6 further times and we know what happened there, winning more doesn't mean clean Froomey!

I should add that I do think he is clean, Team Sky doesn't have the culture of doping that some teams have had and I'd be genuinely surprised if anyone was caught doping on that team (Tiernan-Locke is a bit of a different case).

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posted by mtm_01 [90 posts]
15th February 2014 - 21:40

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Not accelerating away from a tiny Colombian climber as if he had an engine fitted would probably convince more people than another win.

posted by andyp [796 posts]
15th February 2014 - 21:43

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Good luck to Froome!!
I have no doubt that he can do as well, if not better than last year.
Its good to see Wiggins going to the tour to support Froome, and with those two in the team for the tour, Team Sky is looking to be a very strong and dominant team!

posted by mikefreer [17 posts]
15th February 2014 - 21:51

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I'm sure he will, when will the truth out...

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
15th February 2014 - 21:52

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andyp wrote:
Not accelerating away from a tiny Colombian climber as if he had an engine fitted would probably convince more people than another win.

Damned if you do damned if you don't. Makes watching pointless.

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posted by bikeboy76 [1182 posts]
15th February 2014 - 21:59

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I don't see how a win would prove this? Or is this just a qoute without the whole context of a leading question. Anyway, lets wait and see who does what.

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posted by Comrade [132 posts]
15th February 2014 - 22:10

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Quote:
Not accelerating away from a tiny Colombian climber as if he had an engine fitted would probably convince more people than another win.

I hate people like this

posted by ratattat [30 posts]
16th February 2014 - 0:52

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Double post

posted by maldin [31 posts]
16th February 2014 - 1:13

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andyp wrote:
Not accelerating away from a tiny Colombian climber as if he had an engine fitted would probably convince more people than another win.

So I guess not being able to out climb a tiny Columbian one day and then miraculously beating him to win the tour on a climb a few days later would convince you instead? If the light climber had won the tour by taking massive time in the mountains and holding on in the time trials, you'd probably be suggesting he'd also taken something. Its impossible to prove a negative result. All Froome can do is ride to the best of his abilities and welcome people to rest his results in the future retrospectively. Given what has happened to the reputations of many riders whose results where later retested, he has to be a complete idiot or clean to say he believes his results will stand the test of time. He doesn't strike me as an idiot, far from it.

posted by maldin [31 posts]
16th February 2014 - 1:13

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It's a strange argument to make. I don't see how winning again proves anything either way. I imagine it won't make anyone change their mind.

posted by HarrogateSpa [78 posts]
16th February 2014 - 7:10

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'If the light climber had won the tour by taking massive time in the mountains and holding on in the time trials, you'd probably be suggesting he'd also taken something'

Not necessarily. It'd be far more believable.

posted by andyp [796 posts]
16th February 2014 - 9:44

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'Damned if you do damned if you don't. Makes watching pointless.'

No, just damned if you do. And always worth watching.

posted by andyp [796 posts]
16th February 2014 - 9:46

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andyp wrote:
Not accelerating away from a tiny Colombian climber as if he had an engine fitted would probably convince more people than another win.

Convince them of what ? Are you saying it's impossible for a heavier rider to drop a lighter one without doping ? Maybe we should just have a weigh in at the start of the tour and declare the winner ?

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posted by colinth [183 posts]
16th February 2014 - 15:07

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colinth wrote:
andyp wrote:
Not accelerating away from a tiny Colombian climber as if he had an engine fitted would probably convince more people than another win.

Convince them of what ? Are you saying it's impossible for a heavier rider to drop a lighter one without doping ? Maybe we should just have a weigh in at the start of the tour and declare the winner ?

Agreed Smile Well, given than I weigh midway between Froome and Quintana I guess that means I should beat Froome up a climb as well? If we accept that's not true then then we have to accept that many factors come in to play 2.5 weeks in to a stage race and the last climb of the day, and its _just _ possible that the light Columbian isn't guaranteed to win.... Otherwise as you say, we could do a weight in (for the climbing calculations) and an aero drag test (for the time trials) do he calculations, and declare the winner on day 1 of the race Smile personally I want to watch history being made. If retrospective tests catch him out he'll be dragged through the mud and rightly so, but without any evidence to the contrary he is as innocent as you or I are - he can't prove a negative result, its an impossibility. The only proof some people appear to be willing to accept would be him not winning in the first place.

posted by maldin [31 posts]
16th February 2014 - 19:45

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Froome's hardly a heavy weight sprinter, yes Quintana's tiny, but he's also still pretty young, there's supposed to be a reason why gran tour winners are older than people who get success in a lot of other sports, the endurance and experience takes a good while to develop. In a flat out one off hill climb, Quintana may be able to beat Froome, but with all of the other tour factors taken into account it didn't seem that unreasonable for Froome to ride away considering the days that had gone before and the level of training detail that modern teams put in now.

I guess the point Froome's making is that if he won last year and dropped off the radar this year then the anomoly would look all the more suspicious, if he can win (or get on the podium) again this year, against other riders who are also showing up as clean in doping control, then unless they're all using something that can't be tested for then it has to at least be a reasonable assumption that he's telling the truth, otherwise there's never going to be a point to watching the sport if nobody can win without being accused.

Former Fat Lad on a Bike

posted by RobD [91 posts]
17th February 2014 - 9:44

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