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July 25, 2016 – No sooner had Chris Froome wrapped up a third Tour de France after three weeks on the road covering 3,500km, than his thoughts turned to Olympic gold. Four years ago, when Froome was a super-domestique at Team Sky, his team leader Bradley Wiggins followed up Tour glory with Olympic success.
Wiggins went on to be recognized in his home country as the sportsman of the year. Froome, whom many believe could have won that 2012 Tour had he not been riding for, rather than against, Wiggins has never enjoyed the same place in the British fans’ affections as his maverick compatriot. But should he add Olympic time-trial gold, as Wiggins did, to his three Tour titles, he would have a strong argument to be considered the better of the two — and Britain’s greatest cyclist of all. And now Rio is what dominates his thoughts.
“Yes, I’m hoping to do the time-trial at the Olympics. I think it’s a course that suits me well, with almost 1,000-meters of climbing and almost 60km in length,” said the 31-year-old Kenyan born athlete. “It’s going to be an extremely tough event. I took bronze at the last Olympics in London. It would be absolutely incredible to medal again this year.” Before then, Froome will be on a charm offensive in his homeland. He may be by far his country’s most successful professional cyclist, but he has never even won a medal at the national championships. In fact he rarely even competes in that or the Tour of Britain.
But before heading to Rio, he intends to take part in the three-day Ride London at the end of the month. “I’m looking forward to a bit of recovery after this race,” said Froome, whose only one-day race result was bronze at the All Africa Games in 2007 when he was still riding for Kenya. “It looks like next weekend I’m going to Ride London on Sunday as a one-day race before we fly as a team to Rio,” he said.
“The last few years, I haven’t done much racing in the UK. Time-wise it didn’t work out. The Tour of Britain conflicted with the Vuelta, the national championships conflicted with my training for the Tour. This seems like the perfect opportunity to go over to London. And especially if we’re bringing the yellow jersey, it will be a massive honor to engage with the British fans, which I haven’t been able to do the last couple of years, before going over to Rio.”
Other than the Games, though, Froome said there is no point expecting him to start branching out from his specialties as the Tour remains for him the be all and end all. While he said he may race the Vuelta a Espana after the Olympics, he is not going to target one-day classics or even the Giro d’Italia. “My focus definitely is on the Tour de France given it’s just such a special race,” he said.
“It would be my dream to keep coming back to defend it for the next five, six years if I can. To be on the start line to give it my best shot if I have the opportunity to fight for victory again. I’ve won it three times and I can categorically say the novelty is not wearing off. It’s such an incredible feeling. It’s such an amazing event, it’s the biggest event on the calendar. To be here in the yellow jersey and taking it to the Arc (de Triomphe) is every cyclist’s dream. “It’s the biggest one in our sport and I hope I can be back next year and fighting for it again.”