Chris Froome has told teamsky.com that his main goals for 2015 are simply returning to good condition and being at the front of races again, before adding, “whether it’s the Tour or any other race, it’s what I love doing.”
When the 2015 Tour de France route was announced last month, many were surprised by Froome’s swift response. Citing the relative lack of time-trialling, he suggested that he might instead target a Giro-Vuelta double, skipping the Tour altogether.
It’s fair to say there was a degree of doubt that Team Sky would allow their strongest Grand Tour rider to sit out the highest-profile race of all. Cynicism was also encouraged by the fact that Froome himself had previously spoken about his Tour ambitions in no uncertain terms. Before his 2013 victory, he had said: “I’ve got my goals, and personally where I want my career to go is to target the Tour, not just this year but for the next six or seven years.”
However, after initially reacting to the 2015 route somewhat frostily, it seems there has been something of a thaw.
“Looking to next year, my key goal is just returning to good condition and being at the front of a race again. That’s a really big motivation for me. Whether it’s the Tour or any other race, it’s what I love doing. I love racing and being able to compete at the front – to be with a team of guys who you enjoy being with, and who you work together well with. That’s what gets me through the winter when I’m riding those long hours on my own.”
Froome also picks out the early stages of this year’s Tour as being a highlight of his season, even if the race didn’t quite pan out as he’d hoped.
“I think the biggest point of the year for me were the first few stages of the Tour. Starting up there in Yorkshire was something I’ll never forget. It was massive and an incredible experience. Coming in as the previous winner and having that home support was huge.”
However, he cites the Vuelta as being a highlight ‘from a performance point of view’.
“Finishing the Vuelta off in such a decent way, after having all the setbacks – that for me was probably more important than anything else. It means I’ll be able to go forward into next year without starting from a negative position. I can go in with a clean slate and give it my best shot.”
After spending some time in India, in the Himalayas, Froome describes himself as ‘really hungry to start training again’. Over winter, he will split his time between Europe and South Africa, the country he moved to at the age of 14 and where he recently married sports photographer, Michelle Cound.
Speaking last year, Cound told the BBC how Froome had proposed to her at Milan-San Remo:
"We were in Italy and he made me breakfast in bed, which is not like him at all. He sort of rolled over onto one knee and popped the question. When I replied, he started crying and said 'is that a yes?' Then we went and watched the cycling."