Blink and you might miss it but Chris Froome has been caught smiling. Quite a lot actually and why shouldn’t he after his latest stage race success in the Criterium de Dauphiné.



When you’re the world’s most understated rider, even the slightest smirk is an indicator that things are going well. So when the Sky leader admits he’s having a drink with his team-mates to celebrate, that’s enough proof that he knows the Tour de France is his for the taking.



Of course Mr Modest is playing things down. ‘No I don’t consider myself the favourite for the Tour,’ he says.



‘I have won the Dauphiné and other races before but the counter is back to zero when the Tour starts. ‘Personally I know that I’m going the right way and my team-mates are confident too. But the Dauphiné is the Dauphiné, and the Tour is something else.’



Froome reckons there are six or seven contenders for the Tour and in particular, Alberto Contador. Not on the evidence of last week, though, with the Spaniard reduced to playing a supporting role to team-mate Michael Rogers.



Froome is right to play down his chances but he’s already streets ahead of the opposition while claiming not to be 100 per cent fit. Perhaps the biggest threats to his Tour bid are the dual pressures of team leadership and being pre-race favourite without having actually previously won. A life in yellow comes at a cost, and it’s not for the faint hearted.



This article was first published in the June 13 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!