Chris Froome believes that his lengthy recovery from injury may play to his favour when he returns to the Tour de France due to rivals writing off his chances.
The 107th edition of the race is currently scheduled to start on 29 August having been postponed from June, although it is unclear if it can go ahead on that date.
Four-time winner Froome missed last year’s race due to the horrific injuries including a fractured femur that he sustained in a crash at the Criterium du Dauphiné earlier in the season.
Speaking to The Times, the 34-year-old, said his recovery was now complete and that his target remained winning the yellow jersey for a record-equalling fifth time.
“Given recovery has been successful and my track record, that’s the plan,” he said. “I’d like to think that chances are I can do it.
“Nothing is written in stone, or given in sport but I’ve got the experience, loads of motivation and I want to make it happen obviously.”
Froome’s injuries, which also included fractured ribs and a broken elbow, saw him undergo a series of operations and it was only in February this year that he was able to return to racing.
He said: “Going through what I have been the last year, it did give me a lot of time to think. Looking at other athletes who have been through similar experience and come back stronger I can understand why now.
“It gives you a whole new perspective on your career and racing. In cycling we saw [Alejandro] Valverde break his leg in the Tour, come back and the following season he ended up world champion.”
“Hopefully people will write me off a little bit after the crash and I think they have written me off to some extent. That could be to my advantage as well. Every time I have come up against adversity it has always pushed me harder.”
Despite the suspension of racing and inability to train outside at present – like his Team Ineos colleagues, Froome is riding at home on Zwift – he insists that his fitness is not in question.
“I’d say the recovery process is fully finished,” he explained. “What remains now is to return to that top fitness where I’m capable of winning races.
"I'm pretty much bang on where I would be at this time of year in a normal season. The last couple of months have bought me a little bit of extra time to make sure that right leg, that right side of the body, is firing properly before I really load it up.
“It’s pretty motivational thinking that was less than a year ago and now I am back in full training mode and hoping to win a Grand Tour this year. It’s an amazing contrast.”
Whether he will have the chance to race for that fifth Tour de France title this year is very much open to question at the moment.
On Tuesday, France’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe suggested that no team sports events would be permitted until September at the earliest, making the revised start date of 29 August impossible.
But later the same day, the country’s sports ministry insisted that the government did not envisage a further postponement or cancellation of the race, though “adjustments” may have to be made to enable it to go ahead.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.