For Chris Froome, the importance of a significant race against the clock at next year's Tour de France, cannot be understated.
By
AFP

7 Apr 2015 - 5:20 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:34 PM

The 2013 Tour champion built his advantage in the time trials, allowing to ride more defensively in the mountains. It was the same in Froome's equally impressive 2012 showing, where he helped shepherd Bradley Wiggins to the overall win, but was a force to reckoned with against the clock.

This year at La Vuelta a España an under-par Chris Froome conceded more than a minute across the three time trials (two individual, one team) to Alberto Contador, a margin that essentially cost the Brit the overall title. The Brit's under-performance in Spain however is an aberration in an otherwise consistent record against the clock, one he'll be hoping to reprise at next year's Tour.

Key to that however, he believes, will be the presence of a longer individual test, similar to the penultimate day of this year's Tour which, between Bergerac and Periguex.

"One critical aspect of the race which I feel are my strengths is in the time-trials," Froome said, Friday on a conference call ahead of Sunday's World Championship road race.

"I'm quite eager to see the 2015 Tour route and whether in the time-trials I can get an advantage on him (Contador)."

In the mountains the two appear to be closer matched than ever.

Twice they went man against man up tough summit finishes of this year's Vuelta as the rest of the field wilted, but both times, Contador sprung away from Froome in the last kilometre to put time into his rival. But Froome has had his fair share of successes against Contador, too.

The official announcement announcing the 2015 course, will be made in Paris on 22 October, where both Froome and Contador will be attendance. The question of the distance, and indeed the number of time trials will decide much of the way both riders finalise their preparations for the 102nd edition of the world's most famous bike race.

"My goal is just to be as competitive as possible in Grand Tours," Froome said.

"Obviously 2013 was a dream for me but I don't see why that's not something I can do again in the future.

"You've always got to come up against tough rivals -- Contador is a tough guy to beat when he's climbing the way he climbs."

In their absence, Vincenzo Nibali was in a class of his own but Froome denied the Italian was lucky to have his main rivals fall off their bikes.

"Nibali has always been a Grand Tour contender, it's not the first Grand Tour he's won, he's always been thereabouts.

"It will be great to have a race with him next year that you didn't have this year.

"You can't go back and say that guy would or wouldn't have won.

"Nibali won fair and square. He stayed on his bike like a lot of people didn't."

Froome admitted he will come into Sunday's 254km World Championship road race playing a support role for sprinter team-mate Ben Swift.

"One day races definitely haven't been my forte but I'm happy to play a role in setting things up for Swifty," said Froome.

"I'm definitely hoping to be there towards the final of the race."

And while Froome is a top class Grand Tour rider, finishing second at the 2012 Tour and both the 2011 and 2014 Vueltas, as well as a fourth in the 2012 Vuelta, he admits his record in one-day races is not impressive.

"I'm still to get a big result in a one-day race, it doesn't seem to be my forte.

"But I'm hoping to get results in one-day races in the future, maybe at the Rio Olympics where it will be really hilly.

"One race I like is Liege-Bastogne-Liege, that's a race I'd like to keep going back to."

The World Championships will be Froome's last race of the year before he takes some time off and gets back into training in November ahead of the new season.