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PARIS (Reuters) - Minutes after discovering the route for the 2016 Tour de France, defending champion Chris Froome issued a warning to his rivals, saying next year's route suits him even better.
Organizers unveiled a balanced route on Tuesday, one that will heavily favor the climbers but also includes two demanding time trials featuring a few ascents -- the perfect mix for the double Tour champion.
"I think it's a great course," the Team Sky rider told reporters. "It really does challenge in every aspect of cycling -- time trials, the mountains, a tricky technical descent also."
"It's such an amazing, special race, I'm still 30 years old and feel I have a lot left in my legs.
"(Next year's course) suits me better," he added, in reference to the two time trials.
This year's event, which he won in thrilling fashion from Nairo Quintana, featured only one individual time trial.
Froome won the 2013 and 2015 editions thanks to impressive attacks in the mountains -- up the Mont Ventoux the first time and up La Pierre-Saint-Martin this year, hammering his rivals in awe-inspiring fashion.
The 2016 race features a stage that finishes on the summit of the iconic Mont Ventoux, a 22km ascent at an average gradient of 7.2 per cent.
"I think that the beautiful thing about the Tour de France is that it's not specifically about one stage, I think it's going to take a complete cyclist, but the stage that certainly stands out for me is the stage to Mont Ventoux," Froome said.
"I know how difficult this climb is and how much time can be won or lost on that climb."
French hope Thibaut Pinot, third in 2014, said Froome will again be the man to beat.
"The favorite will be Chris Froome, he's the most complete rider, he's the stronger," he told reporters.
"But it will also be good for (this year's runner-up) Nairo Quintana (of Colombia). The time trials will be a good test for the climbers."
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Martyn Herman