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updated: 7/3/2014 4:37 PM

Froome senses pressures as Tour repeat bid looms

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  • Defending champ Chris Froome rides with his teammates during training on Thursday. The Tour de France starts on Saturday in Leeds, England, and finishes in Paris on July 27.

      Defending champ Chris Froome rides with his teammates during training on Thursday. The Tour de France starts on Saturday in Leeds, England, and finishes in Paris on July 27.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

LEEDS, England -- Defending champion Chris Froome says he's feeling the pressure on the eve of the Tour de France.

Ahead of Saturday's race start, the Kenyan-born Briton says his main rivals "have upped their game" and two-time Tour champ Alberto Contador is looking more competitive than a year ago.

Froome says on Thursday that among the pressures is simply that "life definitely changes after winning the Tour."

On the upside, the soft-spoken Froome says the start on "home soil" in northern England has brought huge crowds emanating "warm, positive energy."

He believes his nine-man Team Sky roster is the squad's strongest ever at the Tour, and they're ready.

"I definitely won't say I'm going to win," Froome says, "but I will say that I'm going to give it my absolute everything."

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