With the Tour de France starting in Utrecht tomorrow, some of cycling’s star riders have been sharing their thoughts on this year’s race – including two of the favourites to succeed Vincezo Nibali in the yellow jersey, Chris Froome and Alberto Contador.
Also among those talking at yesterday’s team presentation and in press conferences were Peter Sagan, winner of the points competition in the past three editions, and the man looking to win that contest for the second time, Mark Cavendish.
Fabian Cancellara also spoke to the press, and with an eye on retirement after next year’s Rio Olympics, says this could be his last Tour.
Froome: “I’m in great shape”
Team Sky’s Chris Froome, looking to regain the overall title he won in 2013.
I’m feeling good. It’s been such a long time getting ready for this year’s Tour de France. Obviously after the disappointment of last year I’ve spent a whole year basically just trying to get ready for this point.
It feels great that we’re here now, I’m in great shape, I’ve got such a strong team of guys around me – probably the strongest team we’ve ever had at the Tour de France. I’m just looking forward to getting started now.
The first week is going to be like running the gauntlet. Anyone who doesn’t make it through there isn’t going to make it into the GC race later once we hit the mountains.
That first week is going to be all about trying to stay safe, stay out of trouble, and hopefully all of the contenders can get up into the mountains so that it can be the race that it’s shaping up to be.
Contador: “If I achieve the double people will remember it”
Alberto Contador of Tinkoff-Saxo, aiming to become the first man since Marco Pantani in 1998 to win the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in the same year – and after Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault, just the third to hold all three Grand Tours at the same time.
The most important thing is motivation – this is what you need to achieve this double. If I win just another grand tour it’s not going to change my career but if I achieve the double this is something people are going to remember. I take a lot of motivation from this.
[The 2015 edition will be] one of the most open in Tour history. In the first nine days there are six intense stages. It will be a Tour without respite.
Sagan: “I am part of the team”
His team mate Peter Sagan, winner of the green jersey at the last three editions of the race but looking increasingly marginalised at Tinkoff-Saxo since his switch from Cannondale.
I think I am also part of the team, I am not on the side. I'm happy, it's a pleasure to ride with Alberto.
We can do a very nice Tour and battle for the yellow jersey with other teams. I don't think I feel alone. We're a very good group and we want to win the Tour."
Cavendish: “I feel more relaxed than I was last year”
Mark Cavendish of Etixx-Quick Step, the last man before Sagan to win the green jersey:
I feel good, very relaxed – obviously it doesn’t start with a road race into Harrogate this year [Cavendish crashed with the line in sight in what is his mother’s home town]. I feel a little bit more relaxed than I was then.
The ambience at the Etixx-Quick Step dinner table is incredible. We’ve got a strong team here for all 21 days and we’ll look to win stages throughout. My aim for winning the green is just to win as many stages as possible.
Cancellara: “It’s a special one, a tough one”
Fabian Cancellara of Trek Factory Racing, riding possibly his last Tour de France and aiming tomorrow to win the time trial and take the yellow jersey he has worn in five previous editions of the race.
I’m looking forward to this. I have my goals and my ambitions but first I will try also to enjoy the race and all the experience I have to put it into the race because it is a special one, a tough one.
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