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Tour de France Froome ready for toughest Tour de France of his career

Cycling: Two-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome expects 2016 to be the hardest challenge he has faced at the Grand Tour.

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Chris Froome may go into the 2016 Tour de France as favourite to claim the yellow jersey, but the two-time winner believes it is the "toughest challenge of his career".

The 21-stage Grand Tour includes 10 climbing stages, while the two time trials also have ascents in them that will push the peloton to their limit.

Retaining the title will be a huge ask for the Briton, but he is confident Team Sky have the right ingredients to enable him to be in contention in Paris on July 24.

Froome was chosen to lead the team once again as he looks to win a third Tour with back-to-back titles, with climbing specialists Sergio Henao, Wout Poels, Mikel Nieve and Mikel Landa providing much-needed support.

"I've got all my bases covered with the guys we have here," he said.

"I'm ready for this year's Tour, but I know we can't take anything for granted, but we've got the potential to get the job done. This is the toughest challenge of my career.

"It is a personal goal to be stronger in this edition of the Tour.

"This is a climber-based route. Even the two time trials, one is uphill and the other has two climbs on it. 

"The amount of climbing does outweigh previous editions. [But] everyone here can go uphill, including [Ian] Stannard."

Team Sky's dominance of the race in recent years – they have won three of the last four – has led to suggestions their rivals could join forces on the road to nullify their threat, but team manager Dave Brailsford is not concerned.

"This is one of the high points of year for us," he said. "We get a feel of anticipation and excitement every year, but it’s different this year, there’s a real excitement for the race, we know it's going to be hard and very tough this year,

"If you worry about people ganging up on you, you are not able to focus on yourself.

"We'll make the race and choose our tactics accordingly. It's about being proactive and controlling, rather than worrying about other people."

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