Chris Froome says the desire to prove his doubters wrong is the primary motivating factor in his quest to become the first man to win back-to-back Tour de France titles since Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven race wins last year.
Froome has come to terms with the fact there will always be those who question his success and that of his Team Sky team-mate Sir Bradley Wiggins, but is determined to show his sport’s darkest, drug-tainted days are over by establishing a new era of dominance.
Following Armstrong’s disgrace, and the decision to strip Alberto Contador of the 2010 title, the 28-year-old could next year become the first man to retain the Tour de France title since the great Spaniard Miguel Indurain won the last of his five straight Tours in 1995.
Froome told Press Association Sport: “The chance to show people we’re past that era is one of my biggest driving factors.
“I want to win it again to show people we’re past that era – that they can start to believe in the results we’re getting again, because I know for a fact some people were dubious about the results I got last year and Bradley the year before.
“I’d like to think if I can go back and do it again it will bring some credibility back to the sport. I know myself that my results aren’t going to be stripped, but it will take time before people will see they are going to stand.
“I think we’re through the toughest time of it now. It is really a minority of riders breaking the rules now and getting caught, but we are still living in that post-doping era where we are having to deal with a lot of negativity.
“Fans have every right to question what we’re doing because the winners of the Tour have been caught out for the last 10, 15, 20 years. It’s only right they ask questions about the winner, but I take it as a challenge to respond in the best possible way.”
Froome emphatically stepped out of Wiggins’ shadow in 2013, in which he also won four stage races, and was named on the 10-strong shortlist to succeed Wiggins as this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year, which will be announced in Leeds later this month.
“It’s a great honour to be included especially given the strong year British sport has had,” added Froome. “It’s a prestigious award and it says so much for the emergence of our sport that a cyclist has managed to win it for three of the last five years.”
Froome is already relishing the pressure and expectation that comes with defending his Tour title and hopes to continue to be in a position to challenge for many years to come, as well as targeting another Olympic medal in Rio in 2016.
“The biggest goal and challenge for me is going to be to try to refocus myself on the Tour de France year after year,” Froome added. “I like to think I’m going to carry on riding it for as long as I can find the motivation and as long as I’m physically up for it.”