Twelve months ago, Froome’s yellow jersey defence came to a premature halt when he crashed out of the Tour just before the first cobbled section on stage five. The pavé makes a return this year, but the Team Sky leader warned that the entire opening act, as the race sweeps across Belgium and northern France in the first week, is replete with potential pitfalls.
“That first week really is going to be crucial – the first nine days, actually, until we get up into the mountains on stage 10,” Froome said on Wednesday. “In my mind, it’s almost as if each one of those nine stages is like a Classics race in its own right. You’ve almost got to do nine one-day classics before then starting the GC race up in the mountains. And before you get through those nine Classics, you’re not even entered for the GC race in that regard.”