This is just the start, insists champ Froome

Chris Froome is determined to ensure his Tour de France title this year is just the start of a run of dominance in cycling’s greatest race.

This is just the start, insists champ Froome

The 28-year-old barely gave his rivals a sniff during the 100th Tour which finished on Sunday night in Paris, and has warned them he believes he has still to reach his peak.

“If I look at my career now and what my ambitions are as a pro cyclist, to come and target the Tour has got to be the biggest goal,” he said.

“To be able to do that year after year through your prime period, that has got to be what my main focus is on.”

This year’s mountainous Tour route — criticised by some for being too tough as it deadened the yellow jersey battle in the final week, riders too exhausted to fight one another — suited Froome’s climbing ability.

But the man who finished second to Bradley Wiggins in a support role on last year’s flatter route is confident he can handle most things the Tour might throw at him.

“I’d like to think I’m well balanced,” he said. “I can time trial reasonably, I can climb pretty well, I can’t see what else they can put in the Tour that I would struggle with so I’d like to think I can come back every year.

“This success here has set an amazing platform for me. Going forward, everything I’ve done building up to here, it really has been a massive learning experience as much as this Tour itself has been. It would be a shame not to carry that experience forward and use it in future editions.”

Froome is clear that the Tour is the one that matters the most to him, and he is unlikely to follow Wiggins’ path and turn his attention to the Giro d’Italia next year, nor for that matter the Vuelta a Espana — the race where he made his breakthrough with second place in 2011.

But he also insists his focus on the Tour would not be about chasing records or amassing statistics.

After Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven titles for doping, no man has won more than five Tours de France, a tally shared by Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

But Froome admits he is a novice when it comes to the history of cycling, having been brought up in Kenya and South Africa, a world away from its traditional European heartland.

“As long as I’m hungry for it and have the motivation and physical ability I’ll go for it but I’m not looking to better anyone else in the past or outdo anyone else,” he said.

“I’ll do my best in that regard but I’m not looking at anyone else.”

However, Sky team principal Dave Brailsford believes Froome can be someone who rides his way into the record books.

“I think he has all the makings, all the ingredients of a multiple champion,” he said. “He has all the physical and mental attributes to be competitive in this race, if nothing drastic changes, for quite some time. He is not at his best yet, for sure.”

Froome admitted even he was surprised by his eventual winning margin, five minutes going into the final stage before eventually standing at four minutes 20 seconds.

“That’s a really significant margin,” he said. “Every night I went to bed thinking, ‘Okay, I’ve got this five-minute advantage but at any second someone’s going to challenge that’.”

Alberto Contador talked a good game but rarely showed any signs that he was the man to do it, and in the end the most likely contender was the raw but talented 23-year-old Nairo Quintana, who took second place overall following his victory on the penultimate stage to Annecy-Semnoz.

“All the time there are younger guys coming through the ranks, guys who are going to keep challenging,” said Froome.

“Quintana is going to be around, and he’s one of the guys I’m going to have to battle it out with in the next few years.”

However, whether it be Quintana or anybody else, someone will first need to find a way to stop Team Sky, who are enjoying a second Tour de France win within four years of their formation.

“You all laughed when I told you we were going to win the Tour in five years,” Brailsford said.

“If I’d told you we would win it twice with two different riders you’d have p***ed your pants.”

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