July 04, 2014

LEEDS, England (AP) 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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