AJACCIO, France (AFP) —Chris Froome indicated Sunday that he is slowly growing in confidence as he seeks to live up to the huge expectations placed on him in the 100th Tour de France.
The overwhelming pre-race favorite largely steered clear of trouble on Saturday’s chaotic opening stage, and on Sunday crossed amid a large pack of riders that finished just one second behind surprise winner Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Leopard).
The 28-year-old Sky captain also showed his climbing legs with a jump on the final ascent of the day, the third-category Côte du Salario, just before the finish line in Ajaccio.
“The main objective for us was to stay out of trouble today, stay at the front, and not lose any time to the main contenders,” Froome said via Team Sky’s official website.
“With that little climb about 10km from the finish — I knew the descent was tricky and dangerous. I was on the front with Richie (Porte) and I thought it might be a good time, just to push on a little bit, get ahead and take the descent at my own pace and stay out of trouble.”
Froome admitted going into the Tour that he felt a little nervous about the opening three stages in Corsica. But he appears to be in a safe position ahead of Monday’s 145km third stage, from Ajaccio to Calvi.
That will be followed by a team time trial in Nice on Tuesday, when the Tour reaches the French mainland for the first time.
Meanwhile, there was some concern in the Sky camp over the fitness of Froome’s teammate Geraint Thomas.
The 27-year-old Welshman underwent tests in Bastia on Saturday after falling in a mass crash toward the end of the first stage, and the official Tour medical report after stage 2 confirmed that he was receiving treatment for a sore left hip.