Chris Froome eyes Tour-Olympic double; cyclists face quick turnaround for Rio
PARIS (AP) — Chris Froome didn’t indulge in big celebrations on the Champs Elysees. After securing a third Tour de France title in four years on Sunday, the Kenyan-born British rider turned his focus to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
He finished safely at the back of the main pack in the final stage, arm-in-arm with his teammates during the mostly ceremonial leg ending on the cobblestones below the Arc de Triomphe.
At the start of the stage, Froome dropped back to his Team Sky car to collect bottles of beer and distributed them to each of his eight teammates for a celebratory round. Later, they enjoyed the traditional flute of champagne.
But then it was time to look ahead. Froome, a bronze Olympic medalist in the time trial four years ago in London, will once again be among the favorites in the race against the clock in Brazil.
Froome even beat specialist Tom Dumoulin in his favorite discipline in Thursday’s second time trial.
“I think it’s a course (in Rio) that suits me well, there’s almost a thousand meters of climbing and it’s almost 60 kilometers in length,” said Froome, who will also compete in the road race in Rio. “It’s going to be an extremely tough event. I won a bronze medal in the last Olympics in London and it would be absolutely incredible to win another one this year.”
The 54.5-kilometer (34-mile) men’s time trial in Rio, which features four climbs, is on Aug. 10.
Froome traveled to Rio during the winter to preview the Olympic circuit and has changed his preparations this year to maintain peak form until the games.
Four years ago, Froome’s former teammate Bradley Wiggins managed to secure a Tour-Olympics double, triumphing in the London 2012 Games’ time trial ahead of German Tony Martin and Froome after posting the first British win at the Tour in July.
Froome’s hopes of victory in Rio have been boosted by Dumoulin’s injury at the Tour on Friday. The Dutchman pulled out of the Tour after fracturing his wrist and might not recover in time for the Olympics.
Martin also was injured in France, but he says he will be in Rio. He experienced knee pain and pulled out of during stage 21.
“I left directly after the stage,” he said on his Facebook page. “That was not because of my exit from the race, but had been planned all along with an eye to Rio and my further preparation.”
Nairo Quintana of Colombia, however, is expected to miss the Olympics with an illness picked up at the Tour, according to Cycling Weekly. The 26-year-old finished third overall behind Frenchman Romain Bardet in second and Froome in first. Quintana will undergo tests with an eye on returning for the Vuelta a España later in August.
Froome said he will take some days off to recover before competing in a one-day race in London next weekend.
Then it’s off to Rio.
“We’ll be there about a week before the race to start training a bit more again,” Froome said.