Froome buckled up for rocky Tour de France challenge

Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:05pm EDT
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By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - Chris Froome struggled for form, then crashed but the Briton looks ready just in time to compete for a second Tour de France title although micro managers Team Sky will struggle to control the race like they usually do.

Froome, who claimed the 2013 Tour having won almost every race he entered in the build-up to the three-week extravaganza, took a rockier road this year before taking overall victory in the Criterium du Dauphine, the prestigious warm-up for the Tour.

A couple of trademark late attacks in the final climbs helped him beat American Tejay van Garderen while defending Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali was still struggling for fitness.

Before he got there, Froome was forced to skip the Tirreno-Adriatico week-long race in March because of illness and looked lost in the Tour of Catalunya later that month before crashing in the Fleche Wallonne classic in April.

"I definitely feel as if I had a slower build up to the Tour this year, I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing. I'm exactly where I need to be," said Froome, who achieved the Dauphine/Tour double in 2013.

He picked himself up in the Tour de Romandie, finishing third overall, and looked closer to his awe-inspiring best on the Dauphine.

"There are still one or two little things to touch on but things are looking good," he said.

To help Froome win the Dauphine, Team Sky rode hard to contain attacks and provide their leader with the perfect launching pad for his late accelerations.   Continued...

Race leader jersey holder Team Sky rider Christopher Froome of Britain cycles during the 204.5 km stage of the centenary Tour de France cycling race from Bourg d'Oisans to Le Grand Bornand, in the French Alps, July 19, 2013.    REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen