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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Cycling: Froome ready for challenge of living up to Wiggins’ winning legacy at Tour de France

Simon Peach

Published 25/01/2013 | 11:06

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TEAM Sky's Chris Froome is ready to handle the additional pressures brought by wearing the yellow jersey as he targets Tour de France glory this summer.

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Last year the 27-year-old finished the three-week race second to team-mate and countryman Sir Bradley Wiggins.

With the reigning champion focusing his immediate attention on the Giro d'Italia, Froome looks set to lead Team Sky in France - a role the Kenyan-born rider believes he is ready for.

He said: "2012 was a huge learning curve for me, with coming second in the Tour, a bronze medal at the Olympics and fourth in the Vuelta (a Espana).

"It was a huge learning experience for me, being able to be right at the spearhead of the Tour de France but not having to deal with all the pressure that Bradley had on his shoulders leading the team.

"Going forward for me, this year the Tour de France is going to be my main focus.

"I am going to try and get myself into the best condition possible come the start of the Tour de France and take it from there.

"I am sure there are probably ways I can improve press skills, media skills to help deal with the additional pressure.

"I think the Vuelta a Espana last year helped. I was given the opportunity to lead the team for the first time and that definitely gave me a taste of that added pressure.

"Having said that, I am very prepared and know the Tour de France brings a lot more than the Vuelta in that regards.

"But it is something I feel I am ready for and I am going to have to take in my stride."

Froome's schedule in the build-up to the Tour will be similar to last year, although he will start by racing with Wiggins at the Tour of Oman from February 11.

Much has been made of the pair's relationship and some have suggested a leadership battle at Team Sky.

"I don't think there is much truth in it," Froome said.

"At last year's Tour it was only natural people played on that because we were first and second, but at the end of the day we've got a good working relationship.

"I will always do what I have to for Brad if the team's objective is to be around him and I'd like to think he would do the same for me."

Both riders are currently in Majorca at Team Sky's warm-weather training camp in Port d'Alcudia.

Froome flew in earlier this week and revealed he recently underwent treatment for bilharzia.

The tropical disease is caused by parasitic worms and has affected him before in recent years.

"In terms of that illness, I actually went for a check 10 days ago and found out that I did have to repeat the treatment again," he said.

"It means these big pills that basically poison you and kill everything in your stomach and I took that in the last week.

"I am feeling much better now and hopefully I am in the clear for another six months or so.

"I feel 100 per cent and feel I am still improving as a bike rider the whole time.

"I think I have still got a lot of headway to make in terms of a lot of aspects of cycling and I don't feel I've reached my peak. It is exciting times at the moment."

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