Tour de France 2017

Ellen Mills
July 1, 2017

Brailsford said he was proud of what his team had achieved over the past seven years, adding that he still "absolutely loved" the sport and "wouldn't want to be doing anything else".

Porte took fifth overall at the Tour de France in his first year with the team, but has had a stellar year so far in 2017, winning the Tour Down Under and Tour de Romandie overall as well as second place in the Critérium du Dauphiné in June after letting his lead slip to Jakob Fuglsang on the final day.

On the eve of the Tour de France, Team Sky have confirmed Chris Froome has signed a contract extension running until the end of the 2020 season.

The British team were clearly intent on showing a united front to a public which has grown increasingly sceptical of their methods since the last Tour.

That forced him to change his schedule and switch focus to the Tour of Catalunya instead.

Fans will undoubtedly look forward to the stages finishing on the flanks of La Planche des Belles Filles and the new climb Col d'Izoard, but compared to previous years and the Tour's Italian cousin, this year's race is low on iconic climbs and lengthy ascents. I can't just rely on what I did the year before.

I've said for a long time that Richie has got the potential to win the Tour de France, it's just a matter of time until everything works out for him.

While no major time gaps should occur, the opening stage will allow just a small peak at how each of the 198 riders on the start list is going. France have not had a victor of the Tour de France since Hinault in 1985, 32 years ago.

The Orica-Scott rider, who went on to finish fourth and take the white jersey as highest-placed finisher aged 25 or under, is not racing this year, but twin brother Simon is. Yes, there's only three mountain stages, and two mountain finishes and two time trials but it's a hard course. The rider who wears the yellow jersey at the end of the final stage in Paris is deemed the overall victor.

"Even when these young guys were coming through and were beating me here and there, I always knew I was still the best", he said.

"I think consistency is the key for Richie ... to not have any bad days or mistakes or moments of not paying attention and getting caught out, where he loses time, because that's been his enemy in the past - flat tyres, crashes, being badly placed when the race hits a crosswind - he's got to avoid those errors". A lot of people say it's just another number, but each Tour to me tells a different story. It was followed by the backers of the country's other two top-level professional teams after more doping cases and in 2009 the hugely successful Deutschland Tour also ceased to exist. In 2013, on a similar stage, the Team Sky machine suffered a brutal onslaught from their rivals, leaving Chris Froome on his own to fight the likes of Nairo Quintana, Alberto Contador and ALejandro Valverde.

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