Chris Froome is focussed on defending his Tour de France title and is training well, according to Team Sky boss David Brailsford. Brailsford said that Froome is avoiding the lull that could have followed his first Tour victory.

“It is very challenging. You can’t get away from the fact that if you win a big sporting event, things happen totally detrimental to trying to go and win it again,” Brailsford told the Telegraph.

“You see that with a lot of the Olympic gold medallists; in the next couple of seasons there’s a lull. You have seen it maybe with Andy Murray. It’s a human phenomenon and it’s very, very easy to explain. But I think Chris has managed it really well. Chris went back [to South Africa] for six weeks, really knuckled down with no distractions and he has put some really good training together to be fair.”

Boonen tests new Flanders course

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), three-time winner, rode the final 130 kilometres of the new Tour of Flanders course on Tuesday.

The route now includes only two loops of the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg but before the second round, covers several climbs including the Koppenberg.

“Last year, the final was locked until that last loop. It’s the same this time but now recuperation time will be almost non-existent,” Boonen told Het Nieuwsblad newspaper. “Actually, Flanders will be wide open starting with the Koppenberg. The new course is to my advantage. The harder the better, and this Tour of Flanders is quite tricky.”

Martin upset with Dubai TT start time

Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) complained about the start order of the Dubai Tour time trial. The German World Champion lost by 22 seconds to Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) yesterday.

“I would’ve also preferred to start early because we all knew that the wind was going to kick up and it’d be harder to ride a good time,” Martin told Tutto Bici website. “I was told that I had to start last because I’m the world champion and for TV. That’s fine but in my opinion all of the time trial men should start in the same final block to be on equal terms.”

Phinney started earlier in the day. Tutto Bici reported that the race director never received a request from Omega Pharma to change Martin’s start time.

Nibali’s overcoming rib pains

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) said that he feels fine racing despite a crash two weeks ago. He started the Dubai Tour yesterday, two weeks after falling and suffering rib pain in Argentina’s Tour de San Luis.

“I feel it more when I’m resting or warming up,” the Italian told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “If I’m going all out like I was in the time trial then I don’t feel it.”

X-rays last week ruled out a fracture. Yesterday, he finished 44 seconds behind winner Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) in the time trial. He targets the Tour de France, racing Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders en route.