Chris Froome close to extension with Team Sky until 2021

Froome Tour de France

"I'm proud of British Cycling, I'm proud of Team Sky, I'm proud of these guys, and I'm proud of the way we have tried to do everything in the right way".

With neither a long time trial nor many mountain-top finishes, the course doesn't suit his strengths.

OFF WITH A BANG: At just 14 kilometers (8.7 miles), the opening time trial in Stage 1 in Duesseldorf is short enough for a good number of riders to harbor ambitions of winning it and becoming the first wearer of the race leader's iconic yellow jersey - a guaranteed highlight of any rider's career.

That is good for fans, because it will mean the race isn't decided early on, but perhaps not so good for riders. "I'm going to have to make sure I'm absolutely at my best and to take advantage of any situations out on the road".

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Few know what tackling the Tour entails more than Froome, who is one of the greatest riders in its modern history and can go clear of Greg LeMond, Louison Bobet, Philippe Thys with four wins, one behind the legendary trio of Miguel Indurain, Bernard Hinault and Eddy Merckx.

" It's a very different Tour de France to the Tours that I have won, certainly".

UNUSUAL ROUTE: Whereas the Tour route traditionally travels clockwise around France one year, then counterclockwise the next, this year's edition zigzags to traverse all five mountain ranges of continental France for the first time in 25 years.

He added that "similar agreements with authorities" have been made in Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg for stages of the race taking place in those countries. With majority still in contention after the time trial and full of nervous energy, they will race hell for leather over the next three flattish stages, increasing the likelihood of crashes that could take out top contenders.

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OVERALL CHALLENGERS: With three podium results - but no titles - in his three Tour de France appearances, Colombian climber Nairo Quintana remains a serious threat. This year that appears to be the unprecedented mountain-top finish at the Col d'Izoard in the Alps. "I have the freedom to hunt for my own stage victories as opposed to just supporting the team", he said.

With Giro champion Tom Dumoulin and 2014 champion Vincenzo Nibali sitting out, however, Porte is considered the top challenger.

From the general classification to the sprints Michael Matthews (ACT-Team Sunweb), who claimed a maiden stage win at the 2016 Tour, will be hoping to add to his tally with an eye on the green jersey previously won by Robbie McEwen and Baden Cooke after finishing third previous year.

"I think my main rival is Richie", Froome said of the Australian with BMC.

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The Tour de France is set to get started in a few days.

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