Tour de France: Chris Froome's 10 steps to the summit – and a steep learning curve
Chris Froome has already proved he has solid Tour de France form this season, with major stage wins in the Tour of Oman, Critérium International, Tour de Romandie and Critérium du Dauphiné. Here are his 10 steps to Tour glory and Britain's second overall win in a row.
1. Stay out of trouble
No prologue time trial to decide an initial pecking order among the favourites; narrow, twisting roads; and everybody fresh, in tip-top condition and champing at the bit: the first three days in Corsica are likely to be chaotic. He must avoid crashes – and crashing.
2. Who's in his shadow?
Few people noticed when Chris Froome lost 85 seconds at Seraing on stage one of the 2012 Tour because of a puncture and slow wheel change. But that was one big factor which kept Bradley Wiggins at No 1 in the Sky Tour hierachy. Hopefully this time Froome will have a "shadow" – a Sky team-mate whose only duty is to stick to him like glue, and if there is a late puncture, give him his bike.
3. Get some team spirit
If Sky win the team time trial in Nice on stage four it will be an instant boost to morale for the rest of the race. And it could net Froome the yellow.
4. Don't be blowin' in the wind
The three first-week stages across southern France are all flat, windswept affairs – perfect for sudden ambushes that could see Froome or other contenders, if they are inattentive, in serious trouble.
5. The knockout blow
Assuming he follows the same plan as in the Tour's key warm-up race, the Critérium du Dauphiné, the stage 11 time trial to Mont Saint-Michel could see a first major sort-out, and Froome, second in both last year's time trials and bronze in the equivalent Olympic event, take yellow.
6. Handle the press well
The media circus is notoriously harsh – after years of doping scandals, any outstanding performance is treated suspiciously. Wiggins threw a wobbly in one press conference last year when asked about speculation over his own performance: Froome would be wise not to follow suit.
7. Climb every mountain
The 20km Mont Ventoux on stage 15 kicks off the toughest final week and – assuming he has taken the yellow in the time trial – Froome's rivals will be looking for any sign of unevenness in his climbing form. At the very least, a strong defensive ride is needed.
8. Jokers in the pack
Every year the Tour throws up at least one surprise package overall. Last year it was Froome himself, this year it could be the Colombian climbing genius Nairo Quintana or Birmingham-born Irishman Dan Martin. As favourites, the Sky team have the main responsibility for keeping them under control.
9. Handle Alpe d'Huez up and down
Cycling's most hallowed single climb – it's said that whoever leads at the top will be leading in Paris – but this time it has to be tackled twice. And a vicious technical and twisting descent in between could make it even worse.
10. Pass-Porte to glory?
Just as Froome helped out Wiggins in the 2012 Tour mountains, Australian Richie Porte's role in the Alps as Sky's "Plan B" will be crucial – both to shepherd Froome over the toughest climbs and, perhaps, to make a move and take second place on the podium for Sky for the second year running.
Latest in Sport
Louis van Gaal denies problem with Wilfried Zaha despite Manchester United forward being given no game time
Calum Chambers: Who is Arsenal's £16m right-back target?
Manchester United latest: Angel Di Maria move no closer as Juan Mata emerges as Louis van Gaal's favoured No 10 as prospect of signing
Arsenal transfer news: Versatile Calum Chambers is a 'gamble', admits Arsene Wenger as Arsenal spending passes £50m
Everton transfer news: Romelu Lukaku deal ON, Roberto Martinez assures fans
- 1 Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
- 2 The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 3 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
- 4 Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star, dies aged 45
- 5 Businessman charged £75 for three small bottles of water in London hotel
The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...
£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...
Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...
£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...