Chris Froome has said he may skip the 2015 Tour de France because the course, which was revealed in Paris on Wednesday, doesn’t suit him.
Speaking on his personal website the 2013 champion said he may focus on the Giro d’Italia instead as it is a more “balanced” route whereas the Tour is aimed predominantly at climbers.
“The team (Sky) and I will have to give it some careful consideration before we make any commitments to which of the grand tours I will compete in,” he said on chris-froome.com.
“Next year’s Tour is going to be about the mountains. There’s very little emphasis on time-trialling which means the race will be decided up in the high mountains.
“With six mountain-top finishes it is going to be an aggressive and massively demanding race.
“I see myself as quite a balanced GC (general classification) rider and the Giro with it’s inclusion of a long TT (time-trial) of 60km and tough uphill finishes will make it a well balanced race which suits me well.
“If I did the Giro I may also be able to get myself back to top shape for the Vuelta (a Espana) and go there with a realistic chance of aiming for the win.”
Perhaps telling was Team Sky’s response to the Tour route: a couple of hours later there was still nothing posted about it on either the team’s official website or their Twitter feed.
For the last few years, Froome’s entire season has been geared around one major three-week stage race, mostly the Tour, but he said that might change next year.
“In the past I’ve only targeted one grand tour each season but it could be a good opportunity for me to focus seriously on two,” he said.
“It’s still early days though and we’ll have to sit down and put our heads together as a team to work out what 2015 is going to look like for us.”
– No Froome not easier –
Reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali gave short shrift to the idea that Froome might not take part, telling reporters in Paris that he expected a big battle with the Kenyan-born Englishman, as well as Spanish Vuelta champion Alberto Contador and Colombian Giro winner Nairo Quintana.
“I don’t think a Tour de France can be easier for me (even if Froome doesn’t compete),” he said.
“Froome is certainly a great rider and next year he’ll sure be trying to do a great Tour, and that will make it top draw.
“This year he was very unlucky (crashing out).
“It’s difficult to say who the favourites are, we’ll see throughout the season with the preparation and how everyone arrives at the Tour.
“But the favourites for sure are Froome, Contador and Quintana; it will be a battle.”
Looking at the route itself, with a first week taking the peloton from the start in Utrecht in the Netherlands across the north of France through Normandy to Brittany, Nibali believes the cobbles and potential for high winds will make it a tricky beginning before the riders even reach the mountains.
“The Tour next year really has big difficulties. In northern France, Brittany, there will certainly be a bit of wind, plus important stages like the one with cobbles,” said the Italian.
“So the first week will be very difficult and then in the last week we’ll find (mountains such as) Plateau de Beille, La Toussuire and l’Alpe d’Huez.
“Those are the most important stages for the Tour de France and the overall classification.”
Froome didn’t even make it to the cobbles on the 2014 edition, crashing out with a broken hand and wrist on the cobbled fifth stage, but before the peloton crossed the first cobbled section.
But he denied the prospect of another trip over the pave concerned him.
“I actually quite enjoy the challenge of riding on the cobbles,” Froome said.
“It’s a difficult and stressful obstacle for us to overcome when it’s part of a race like the Tour de France, but we’re all in the same boat and there’s no reason why I’d be any worse off than any of the other GC contenders.”