London - Chris Froome says he would work
for British teammate Geraint Thomas at this year's Olympic Games if his own
gold medal ambitions falter in Rio.
Froome is targeting a third Tour de France
before setting his sights on an unprecedented two Olympic golds on the twisty
streets of Rio de Janeiro in the road race and time trial – a formidable
undertaking even for a rider of his all-round ability.
Welshman Thomas, 29, has started the season
in style by retaining the Tour of the Algarve title and will be among the
leading contenders for the road race in Rio where they will ride in British
colours rather than those of Team Sky.
Thomas usually works tirelessly as one of
Froome's most trusted support riders, as he did so impressively at last year's
Tour de France, but the roles could be reversed in August.
"If G is flying and I'm struggling,
then definitely (I'd support him), absolutely," Froome, 30, said at Team
Sky's training camp in Mallorca this year.
"I'd be happy playing a role if it
meant we could have an Olympic champion."
Froome, who won a bronze medal in the
London 2012 time trial under the flag of his native Kenya, said his close bond
with Thomas would help when the pressure builds up during an Olympic road race
and personal ambition rises to the surface.
"The key to all of this is
communication. Especially with G. We've been riding together now for coming up
to 10 years," he said. "At the Olympics it will be a very honest,
open discussion between us out on the road.
"Who's feeling good? Can we get the
job done today? Will you pull? Will you not pull? It's that team dynamic."
Froome has already done a recce of the Rio
course which will cover 256.4km, starting and finishing in Flamengo Park, and
including some ferocious climbs.
The friendship between the two riders could
be tested earlier too, in the Tour de France where Froome, the undisputed king
at Sky after his 2013 and 2015 wins, knows any weakness on his part will be
seized upon by his lieutenant.
Froome plays down any conflicting interest
between them but knows it is only a matter of time before Thomas makes the
podium of a major tour.
"I think G has definitely got the bit
between his teeth this year," he said. "Anyone who watched the Tour
last year could see what he is capable of.
"It would be great going into the Tour
de France with G also (a protected rider) this year."
With Richie Porte having left Team Sky to
pursue his own general classification ambitions alongside Tejat van Garderen at
BMC, Froome will rely on Thomas even more this year.
"Geraint is up for the Tour. He really
wants to go and earn the right to be a protected rider. And why not?" team
boss Dave Brailsford said. "He got a lot of belief out of his performance
last year and wants to step up again. That's exciting."
Brailsford has beefed up Team Sky's line-up
with signings such as Poland's Michal Kwiatkowski and Spaniard Mikel Landa and
Froome knows his standard must not slip as he eyes his European opener at this
month's Tour of Catalunya.
"It's great that we have got these guys
on the team. I know for me that if I become at all complacent these guys are
right there to step in and take my place," he said.
"I'm going to have to be just as good
if not better than I've been in the past."