Froome in strong position: ‘Right now I feel happy with where I’m at’

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Chris Froome expects attacks on the road on Wednesday’s first Alpine stage after Team Sky released power data in a bid to quell the furore surrounding the Tour de France leader.

The 30-year-old Team Sky leader has an advantage of three minutes 10 seconds over Nairo Quintana (Movistar) ahead of Wednesday’s first of four stages in the Alps, to Pra Loup.

“These next four stages, each stage has its own particular challenges to overcome,” Froome said.

“If I compare how I was two years ago on the second rest day, I feel as if I’m in a much stronger position than I was (then), coming into the last week.

“I did feel as if I was hanging on at that point. Right now I feel happy with where I’m at, I’m certainly not fading, if you like.”

Froome’s strength in the first stage in the Pyrenees, stage 10 to La Pierre-Saint-Martin, prompted innuendo and interrogations, with host broadcaster France 2 among those to seek expert analysis.

Froome insists he races clean and the clamour for his actual figures led to Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford inviting head of performance Tim Kerrison to reveal the real numbers behind the display on the race’s second rest day.

Brailsford was taken aback when he appeared on France 2 on Sunday evening and was shown a video of Pierre Sallet, a doctor of physiology, calculating Froome’s power in watts per kilogram at 7.04.

Sallet claimed it was an “abnormally high profile” and Team Sky contest it was “wildly wrong”, with Kerrison revealing on Monday Froome’s reading to be 5.78 watts per kilogram.

The 2013 champion is unfazed, describing it as “a sideshow”.

He added: “My focus has been on the race. This is the dream position, to be four racing stages away from the Champs-Elysees (on Sunday) with a decent advantage over most of my rivals.

“Nothing is going to detract from that.”

Froome is uncertain if the data release will convince everyone of the legitimacy of his performances.

“I’m not sure if numbers are going to fix everything, but certainly I feel as a team and myself, we’re definitely trying to be as open and transparent as possible,” he added.

Brailsford says performance data would not be released every time Froome beat the field and expects the attention not to detract from the Kenya-born Briton’s desire to win this week.

Brailsford added: “We’re here to race and racing is a human endeavour. It’s not a set of numbers on a spreadsheet, it’s not a power meter.

“I’m sure if Chris feels that he can attack and he could go and leave everybody behind, it would be a travesty, I think, if he had any doubt in his mind thinking ’oh, I better not’. And I know he won’t.

“That’s what we should do: continue to race in a clean and pure fashion.”