DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - Chris Froome, who is targeting a fourth Tour de France title, has warned that despite under-par recent performances, he is fresher than ever as he embarks on another three weeks on the road.
The Briton, 32, has not won a race this season, but believes his freshness, experience and hunger will compensate for his patchy form.
“I’ve been very light on race days this year but coming into the Tour I am fresher than I have ever been before,” Froome, sitting in the middle of his eight Sky team mates and manager Dave Brailsford, told a packed news conference.
“I’m ready for the next three weeks. I feel as if am exactly where I need to be.”
Questions were asked about Team Sky’s credibility in the wake of an investigation by UK Anti-Doping into allegations of possible wrongdoing by the British team, but Brailsford remained defiant about his own role.
“I’m going nowhere. I’m planning ahead for next year’s Tour and one after that. I’m proud and patriotic of what I’ve achieved.”
Asked why he should be trusted, he replied: “Because we’re doing it the right way.”
Froome, who has also been asked questions about an investigation that has centred on the delivery of a ‘jiffy bag’ to former team mate Bradley Wiggins in 2011, said he had “no trust issue with Team Sky”.
He added that he was in the process of finalising a contract extension until 2021.
Brailsford said Sky remain determined to let their riding do the talking during the July 1-23 Tour.
“The strength of our team is something we’re going to look forward to utilising in the next weeks,” Brailsford said.
“Whoever is gonna win this race will have to be pretty offensive. It’s a pretty open and exciting race.”
Froome named former team mate Richie Porte of Australia as his main rival but he believes he may have an edge over the BMC rider.
“It’s definitely an advantage to have been in this position. I don’t feel it as a burden.”
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis