Tour de France - Froome feels pressure of leadership

British Eurosport caught up with Chris Froome as he prepares to lead Team Sky into the Tour de France with Bradley Wiggins out injured.

Tour de France - Prepare for a fight, Tour rivals tell Team Sky

View photo

Team Sky's Chris Froome is learning to deal with the pressure of leadership

Eurosport: So you missed all the bad weather at the Giro?

Chris Froome: I was quite glad not be there, hearing things from the other guys it sounded pretty grim. If it’s one or two days you can deal with it, but when it’s weeks on end then it definitely starts to have an impact on you.

How are your season’s preparations going?

Yeah really good. I’ve spent some time training in Tenerife with some of the guys. The races I’ve done have been really useful. One in terms of building the team around me and also getting used to the team leadership position and adapting to the different roles and responsibilities that comes with that. Then of course trying to get the results to back up everything we’ve done along the way so it’s been a really worthwhile exercise.

Now being a team leader, how have your roles and responsibilities changed within the team?

It is quite a difference. I found in the past you can basically look after yourself, and you only really need to make decisions for yourself. Now it’s a whole different ball game, I’m thinking about all my team-mates around me, trying to make sure they’re all looked after, and that everything is working for all of us not just myself. You’re the guy who basically has to put your hand up and accept responsibility if something isn’t done right, and make sure it’s done properly. But the biggest difference that comes with it is the pressure from the media, and being out there for the fans. There’s a lot more expectations on your back, so that’s something I’ve been getting used to, but I can’t say it’s all bad.

Building up to the Tour, how important has it been wearing the leader’s jersey in other races you’ve competed in to get used to everything else that comes with it?

It’s been great to be in the leader’s position in the other races this season, I’ve really enjoyed it. However I don’t think it compares on any level to what it’s like at the Tour, but it’s definitely been a good experience nonetheless.

Looking back at last year’s Tour, is there anything you can take from that, maybe what Brad had to go through, which will help you this year?

I think last year I was in a very privileged position. I was at the front of the race without having to deal with too much. I was doing a fair amount of media last year, being second in the Tour, but it’s definitely very different when you’ve got the yellow jersey on your back. There’s only one way to really find out what that’s like and that’s to be in that position.

This season how important has it been to compete against your Tour rivals, and show them early on what you can do?

I think each race which I’ve done this year has been a test and a way of checking exactly where the form is at and the level of competition. Each time I’ve come out feeling very happy and confident about where I am, but not necessarily feeling the need to go out and win every race. It’s the same thing now going into Dauphine, I don’t think I’ve got the pressure to have to win it. But getting a good result and being there or thereabouts with the contenders does leave you coming away with a very good feeling, and you think ok I’m in the right place and I’m in the running. Having said that it’s a bit strange all these races building up to the Tour because with the results you know that everyone isn’t quite at their 100% level yet like they would be at the Tour. So I’m expecting everyone to come out absolutely flying there.

What did you learn about your rivals, being against them this year?

Contador (Alberto) is the one that stands out to me as the biggest threat. He certainly likes attacking that’s for sure, he’s not going to give you the race on a platter. I don’t know if that will work to his detriment, or if he attacks enough that will put us under pressure, but that’s where all the fun comes in I guess. It’s been interesting reading opposition up until now, but I’m sure they could say the same about us, maybe that we’ve got quite a predictable style of racing. I wouldn’t say it’s a good or bad thing, but everyone has to come up with their own tactics.

Does the team style suit you and the others around you, are you happy to control things from the front?

I think so yeah. It keeps things within measurable range and it makes it easier to gauge our efforts. I think it’s a style which is a lot more calculated, it then opens the door for the other teams to come up with their counter plans. Personally I think it’s quite exciting.

What have you learnt about yourself as a cyclist this year. The Tirreno has only really been the negative so far, when it was very cold and you had to think about re-fuelling and what to wear etc. Do you learn and take more from those races?

You can definitely take more from a race when you’re down, or you’ve had a bad day, or when you’ve had your head kicked in by someone else. You definitely come away having learnt a hard lesson. It’s very easy to get thrown into a false sense of security when you’re getting good results all the time. I think it’s good every now and then to have one of those bad days to remind you that things don’t always go to plan, it helps you prepare for when things do turn tough.

Looking ahead to the Tour, is there a grand plan for it, or is just a case of taking it one stage at a time?

I think it has to be broken down into little sections. I personally try and break it down into 21 single day races. There are definitely sections of the race which can be separated from the rest. I think Corsica can be taken as a three-day block. Perhaps we need to ride a little differently over there to stay out of trouble and survive those first few days. But it’s very much going to be taking each day as it comes, and dealing with each day one at a time.

At the Dauphine you’ll be riding some key stages also featured at the Tour. How beneficial is it for your preparation to visualise those in race conditions?

That’s one of the great things about the Dauphine this year, it does incorporate some of the crucial moments of the Tour route. It will be great for us to get a feel for the l’Alpe d’Huez, ok we will only have to do it once, but we’ll definitely get a feeling for what it’s like at race pace, and that small tricky decent afterwards which could also be quite decisive. I think the flat time-trial in the middle of a stage race will be a good indication of where everyone’s at form wise.

What is it about the Tour that sets it apart from every other bike race?

I think it’s just the magnitude of it. You know that every pro team is going to be sending their strongest nine guys to do the absolute maximum possible. Every team will arrive with a different agenda not all to ride the general classification, some will target different competitions or different stages. As a bike rider in the peloton at the Tour, for me it just feels at least 3 or 4km faster than any other race we do. Whether that comes down to the calibre of the riders there, or the pressure from the media and the fact that the whole cycling world is watching that one event. It’s just a special event, and it makes it that bit harder.

You mentioned how different teams have different intentions, but you will be going into the race as a favourite for the GC. Is that something you really think about?

It’s something I prefer not to think about! At the end of the day I know I can only do my best. I can only make sure I give my 100% and that I am in 100% condition getting there. The fact that people are talking about me as one of the favourites, I think I have to just put that to one side and just get on with it. If I spend too long stewing over what people are saying and their expectations I probably wouldn’t make the start in Corsica!

What’s it like to be part of the success of British cycling. Is it a great time to be a British rider?

It is, especially after last year. It really hit home being in London after the Olympics and having that feeling of, just wow, and the realisation there’s a whole nation of people behind us. It’s become apparent that there are a lot more people on bikes, and following what we do. It’s really exciting, there’s definitely a buzz around it, that probably adds to the pressure, but it’s not a bad thing at all.

Do you think it’s strange that people now look up to you and are inspired by what you’ve achieved?

It’s a bit of a strange feeling, but if I think back to it I must have thought the same as a teenager looking up to the top Tour de France riders thinking I want to be like that one day.

Do you have a favourite Tour de France memory that ignited your passion?

The very first Tour de France that I can remember following on TV was when Lance Armstrong and Ivan Basso were battling it out in the mountains. I just remember seeing that and thinking this is an amazing sport. Personally I was supporting Basso, being the underdog. So it’s strange now looking around in the peloton seeing guys like Basso next to me, it’s a bit surreal.

We recently saw Mark Cavendish, a former team-mate of yours win the points jersey at the Giro. What sets him apart from the rest?

Good question, I’m not sure what it is. I guess he’s just got that natural ability for that explosive finish, and perhaps that aerodynamic position that he has. There’s something about him but he definitely cleans up when it comes to the sprints, there’s no question about that.


From now until the start of the 2013 Tour de France on June 29, British Eurosport are designating each Thursday as ‘Toursday’: an opportunity for cycling fans to come together and discuss the sport as we count down the 100 days until the 100th edition of its premier event.

To join in on Toursday, follow @EurosportUKTV on Twitter and use the hash tag #toursday.

View comments (3)