Froome is my main rival, says Contador
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
British cyclist Christopher Froome of the Sky Procycling team crosses the finish line during the twelfth stage of the ‘Vuelta’ Tour of Spain early in August. AFP photoThe grueling climb-filled route that was unveiled for next year’s Tour de France has set up the enthralling prospect of an epic battle between odds-on favorites Chris Froome and Alberto Contador.
The Kenyan-born Froome, 27, finished runner-up behind British compatriot Bradley Wiggins in last year’s Tour, while Spaniard Contador is hunting a third Tour title after wins in 2007 and 2009 (with his 2010 victory struck from the record books after he tested positive for clenbuterol).
Wiggins has admitted that Froome is now in the Team Sky hot seat for the yellow jersey, and with four summit finishes scheduled for the 2013 Tour and the distances of time-trials slashed, the soft-spoken rider who grew up in South Africa has emerged as the more likely candidate to lead the British team’s challenge.
“I do not know yet if I will be able to ride two big Tours, I will only be able to seek one win and I have the Tour (de France) in mind,” said Froome. “I think Bradley could be the leader on the Giro d’Italia and me on the Tour. But we still have to wait for next year’s programs and talk about this with the managers.”
Froome said he didn’t feel the Tour’s centenary edition was necessarily the toughest it could have been. “It’s not quite as hard as I expected it to be. For the 100th edition I was expecting the organizers to go all-out in the mountains,” he said.
Contador, who finished more than 10 minutes ahead of Froome on last year’s Tour of Spain when the British rider struggled badly during the second half of the race, remains most pundits’ favorite, but the Spaniard also predicted that the race would go down to the wire.
“It’s a well balanced route but it’s going to be wide open right to the end and the final stages will be really spectacular,” said the 29-year-old Madrid native. “It’s going to be great for the fans because the end of the Tour will be at altitude. We’ll have to see but I think it’s going to be very uncertain.”
Contador, however, was in no doubt over who posed his biggest threat for the 2013 Tour which begins in Corsica on June 29 and culminates on July 21.