Froome eyes Tour title and Olympic double

PHOTO: REUTERS

MALLORCA • Cyclist Chris Froome became the highest earner in his sport on Tuesday, with a salary understood to be at least £4 million (S$8.28 million) a year, and he has the ambitions to match.

The Team Sky leader not only has his sights on a third Tour de France triumph this summer, but also at least one Olympic gold medal, perhaps even two.

Froome, 30, set out his goals at Sky's winter camp in Mallorca after confirming a new deal, which takes him through to the end of 2018. By then, he hopes to have joined the four riders in history - Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain - who have won a record five Tours.

"Why not," Dave Brailsford, Sky's team principal, said. "You can't say that he can't."

The Tour remains Froome's main target but, this year, it comes with the added challenge of the Olympics in Rio and a tantalising opportunity to make history by going beyond Bradley Wiggins' feted achievement in 2012, of winning the Tour and the Olympic time trial within two weeks.

  • £4m Chris Froome's salary in 2016, which makes him cycling's top earner

No man has won the road race and the time trial at the Olympics but after heading to Brazil in November on reconnaissance, Froome was left wondering if that double is possible.

First, he rode the time-trial route. "I looked at the TT course, I thought, 'This is fantastic, I'd love the chance to get stuck into this TT,' " he said.

Tony Martin, the three-time world champion, has already said that Froome is favourite over a course that includes two laps of the Grumari circuit, which has a 1.2km climb at 7 per cent gradient and another of 2.1km at 4.5 per cent.

Froome also looked favourably at the road-race route, with its 256.4km distance, which contains more than 4,500m of climbing.

He would love to contend for both, but it remains to be seen if that is feasible so soon after the rigours of the July 2-24 Tour.

The Aug 6 Olympic road race comes first and Froome may even have to decide mid-event whether to commit himself, or to hold back for the time trial four days later.

"It's such a complicated thing, the Olympic road race," he said.

"That amount of climbing, people are going to be on their hands and knees by the last two laps. It's small teams of five and it's going to be every man for himself. I was fortunate to get Olympic bronze in London, so it would be right up there if I were to win a medal.

"But first and foremost, the focus is on the Tour. A lot of people say, 'Defending your title' but... I am going there to challenge for a third title. I don't feel I am defending something."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2016, with the headline 'Froome eyes Tour title and Olympic double'. Print Edition | Subscribe