“I’m much more mature and calm, and I’ve got a strong team by my side which helps me out wherever they can. Thousand things have changed, all for the better.
We did things right, rode well in all stageraces we took part in since January, winning three of them and making the podium in San Luis and País Vasco. We’re well prepared for this challenge.
I rested up a bit more than normal in the winter to come into the racing season fresher, and it’s been proven during it that we were right.
Winning two WorldTour races that wasn’t yet on my palmarès was so exciting, and made me more confident. The team is growing more adapted to my needs, I feel better and better with them, and always offer my best offer a smile to everyone I come across.
I like the mountains on this year’s route. The Tour’s mountain-top finishes are ones I enjoy so much. Andorra will be already pretty hard and make some gaps. Mont Ventoux - I hope to do better than in 2013 and get closer to te win. And then there’s Morzine, a place I hold dear in my heart as I took my first big pro win there in the 2013 Dauphiné. La Caverne’s requires strength of mind, and will be extra tough coming after Ventoux and the Pyrenees; Megève’s won’t be so decisive nor a real mountain TT, because the mountains will come afterwards. However, one in bad form could lose the race there.
We made a mistake in the Netherlands in 2015, and we can’t fail again. I fear the stress of racing, danger and crashes but I know I’ll have a powerful team, with plenty of good rouleurs plus talented climbers. Alejandro Valverde is one to be respected by our rivals and a huge addition, which makes me so happy. We know he will give his 100% for the #SueñoAmarillo.
Froome and Contador will be the biggest rivales, but many others are to follow and be aware of. I'm not superstitious, though I promised a friend of mine to bring him a lion from the podium ceremonies if I got to win the Tour. I thank everyone for their messages on social media - they bring me so much strength to keep seeking for this #SueñoAmarillo. See you in Paris!”