Froome hoping to agree extension by Grand Depart

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Chris Froome is hoping to have agreed a contract extension with Team Sky by the time he starts his bid for a fourth Tour de France crown.

Froome has won three of the last four yellow jerseys and will line up for the Grand Depart in Dusseldorf as the favourite once again.

And the Briton wants his future with Sky to be assured when he takes to the start in Germany, telling a media conference: "Hopefully by the time we start on Saturday the t's will be crossed and i's dotted. We're in the final process now of agreeing an extension.
 
"I think I'll probably, at best, have five or six years left at the top level and I'd like to be here at the start of the Tour de France aiming to win the race.

"I came into the sport quite late and I feel as if I'm still quite young in cycling terms. I've got a bit of catching up to do."

Froome feels a decrease in the number of summit finishes in 2017 could make the race more competitive, adding: "This is definitely going to be the biggest challenge of my career to date. The level of my rivals and the course we're racing on this year means it could be a very open race.
 
"With less mountain top finishes and less time trial kilometres it leaves less opportunities for GC contenders."

Stage five, which sees a finish atop the Planche de Belles Filles, has been identified by Froome as being potentially key to his hopes.

He said: "I don't expect it to make a big difference but I expect there will definitely be differences between the GC guys.
 
"It's not important to prove anything but of course it's the first opportunity to really take the race on and see where everyone is at.
 
"Tactically it's going to be an interesting race and the strength of my team is really going to help me over the next few weeks."