Chris Froome is looking forward to getting back into action at the Tour of Beijing this week and is proud to be taking part in the very first edition of the race.
"It's fantastic that there's now a tour of this calibre in this part of the world."
The 26-year-old has not competed for Team Sky since wrapping up his runner’s-up spot at the Vuelta a Espana last month but formed an integral part of the Great Britain squad that helped Mark Cavendish win his World Championship title in Copenhagen before returning home to Monaco to keep his condition ticking over nicely before his trip to China.
Froome joined up with the rest of his team-mates on Saturday and when we caught up with him at the team hotel in the capital, he was relishing the opportunity of riding the final WorldTour stage race of the season in a new continent.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been to China, so it’s been a real eye-opener so far,” he told us. “Having grown up in different parts of the world, the culture shock wasn’t as big for me as it was for some of the guys, but it has still been a very different experience, definitely.
“We’ve been looked after really well. The flight out here was great and the hotel we’re staying in is very nice as well. We’ve been able to get out and about a bit during our quiet-time too and our visit to the silk market has been one of my highlights so far.
“As for the race itself, it’s one that I’m really excited about and it’s fantastic that there’s now a tour of this calibre in this part of the world.”
And although Froome admits it has been difficult for the teams to get out and about on their bikes at times, he insists it hasn't hampered their preparations unduly and is feeling good ahead of the five-day event.
“We haven’t been able to do as much on-the-road training as we would have liked,” he admitted. “That’s been the same for all the teams though. The roads here are really busy and the city is so big that it’s not been possible to ride out into the countryside and get some good efforts in.
“The pollution hasn’t been that bad though, and to be honest, I haven’t really noticed it. Having had a bit of time off after the Worlds, I'm feeling fresh and can't wait to get going again. ”
After his exploits in Spain, many people might be expecting Froome to be up there at the top of the standings again, but the man himself wants to play down such predictions and believes other members of the team stand a better chance of success than his own.
“Having studied the parcours, I don’t think this race will really suit my style. There aren’t any real out-and-out mountains stages, and even on the third stage which includes three first-category climbs, I still think they’ll be 60-or-so riders there at the end.
“This tour is more suited to sprinters I think. Davide [Appollonio] is in great shape so it could be a good one for him, and Alex [Dowsett] is also really fired up for the time trial on Wednesday as well.
"Obviously, I’ll be trying to do as much as I can on the road, but I think I’ll probably be asked to perform a supporting role in this race if I’m honest.”
Once the Tour of Beijing is over, Froome’s memorable season will officially be done and dusted, but even after 10 months in the saddle, the Kenyan-born rider admits he will be combining his holidays with a spot of mountainbiking in Malaysia.
“I’ve agreed to ride the Langkawi International Challenge,” he revealed. “I actually started cycling through mountain biking, so it’ll make a nice change from the road bike and allow me to go back to my roots a bit.
“Langkawi is lovely part of the world as well so when I’m not riding there I’ll also be enjoying a few other outdoor activities, exploring new places, and taking in the scenery. I’ll take a few weeks off after that and then my thoughts will turn to next season.”
It's fantastic that there's now a tour of this calibre in this part of the world.Chris Froome