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Froome’s African unwinding ‘crucial part’ of 2014 plans

MILAN (VN) — Chris Froome (Sky) is already planning for his title defense at the 2014 Tour de France, but in the face of increased demands and new found fame, he is stepping back this month to unwind in Kenya.

“[Coping with the demands] is going to be a crucial part of the run in to 2014 and making sure I don’t arrive in January feeling that it’s just been business the whole way through,” Froome said recently. “So hopefully I can switch off when I go back to Kenya and just unwind a bit after the season, reflect a bit and get ready mentally for next year.”

Froome raced full-speed to his eventual Tour de France win in July. He won from February to the start of the Tour, taking the overall classifications in the Tour of Oman, the Critérium International, the Tour of Romandie, and the Critérium du Dauphiné. And since the Tour, he has hardly let up.

Last week, he was at a new criterium Japan at the request of Tour organizer ASO. He and other riders, including green jersey Peter Sagan (Cannondale) spent time before the race in mock competitions with sumo wrestlers. The Japan visit was one of the last official appointments in his post-Tour agenda that included the 2014 presentation in Paris, and sponsor visits and races in the United States, Canada, and Italy. Now it is time for Froome’s break.

During the interview at the Florence world championships in September, Froome said that he would return to his roots in Kenya for two to three weeks with his fiancé. Froome was born in Nairobi and lived in Kenya until his early teens, when he moved to South Africa. He only made it to Europe in 2007 and it was not until 2011, with his second place in the Vuelta a España, that the international press really started notice him. After his 2013 season, the attention is at a new level.

“No, it’s not something … by no means do I enjoy it and go out and seek it, but I understand exactly how people feel. I felt exactly like that when I was an amateur cyclist. I’d look up at the guys who were successful cyclists and think, ‘Wow, I’d love to pass that guy in that street or have a picture with that guy.’ I think it’s understandable. I have no problem with that,” said Froome.

“I still wake up every day, still go training, so nothing’s really changed in that respect. But when I go to the supermarket or when I go for a walk into town or anything like that, I am stopping every few minutes to take a photo with someone or sign someone’s cap or something like that. That’s just one of the things that I’ll have to get used to.”

Froome’s time away from his Euro-base in Monaco will be the last moment of peace before he ramps up for a return to a Tour route that suits him well. After the Kenya stop, he returns for Sky’s December training camp in Mallorca, Spain, which is the official beginning of his 2014 Tour campaign.