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Although the Tour de France doesn’t finish until Sunday evening in Paris, Chris Froome spoke at length to the media in the press room atop Alpe d’Huez on Saturday.
Tradition dictates that the Tour winners’ press conferences always take place one day earlier than the finish on the Champs Elysees. This is both a recognition of each victors’ desire to switch off once the final sprint happens and also a reflection of the fact that the race almost never changes on the final day.
Froome defended his yellow jersey in the face of a flurry of attacks on Saturday. While closest rival Nairo Quintana was able to get clear and take more time out of the race leader, Froome still had one minute 12 seconds left after the stage and, barring catastrophe, will seal his second Tour title on Sunday.
The Briton made clear that he was in the sport for the long haul, shrugging off personal attacks such as the urine he had thrown in his face on the Mende stage plus the spitting incidents in the days since and on the Alpe itself. He has also faced scrutiny from the press, in particular the French media.
Despite all that, Froome insisted that winning the Tour was worth the hiccups along the way. In fact, he said that he was in the sport for the long haul and that he planned to keep trying to win more Tours in the years ahead.
“For me that is what this is all about. That is the side of cycling that I love. I love the sacrifices, the training, the hard work. That is what gets me out of bed in the mornings,” he said in that conference.
“I am not trying to do it for a specific amount of Tour titles or fame or some kind of rewards or something like that.
“What gets me out of bed in the morning is the fact that I love riding my bike, I love pushing my body to the limits, I love the freedom that cycling gives you. I would like to carry on doing this as long as my body will allow me. I have set myself the goal of trying to do this until the age of 36, 37, 38 maybe. Who knows?
“If I can carry on that long, I am definitely going to try.”
Froome previously said that he wanted to try to win multiple Tours. His victory this time around reinforces the impression that he could be a force for many years yet, but it also highlighted the threat he will face from Quintana in the future.
“I certainly do see Nairo being one of the guys who is going to continue to give me a hard time in the next few additions of the Tour de France. Of course he has got age on his side, he is five years younger than me,” he said.
“I don’t know how much longer we are going to see Alberto Contador racing in the Tour de France. I think he has said he wants to continue for one more year. But I am sure there are always going to be younger riders coming through.
“I definitely expect Nairo will be one of my biggest rivals in the future.”
In the full press conference audio, Froome spoke about far more than these topics alone. He also dealt with issues such as becoming a father, enduring the hostility he was faced with some fans, allegations of doping, an assessment of his rivals, recent illness and much, much more.