Stephen Roche has backed Chris Froome to thrive in the 100th Tour de France as the Team Sky rider seeks to succeed Sir Bradley Wiggins as champion.
Froome enters the Tour, which begins on June 29 in Corsica, as favourite after four wins in 2013 and with defending champion Wiggins absent with a knee problem.
Roche (pictured), the 1987 champion, is a long-time admirer of Froome and anticipates the Kenya-born Briton can handle the expectation.
"He has all the qualities to win a Tour," HotChillee ambassador Roche told Press Association Sport.
"I've no doubt about it, Froome can cope with anything that's thrown at him.
"He's a very intelligent guy, very nice guy, very humble, very good with the press, very good with the public, very good with his team-mates.
"I've always felt he could win the Tour, but at the same time I think he's very good for cycling.
"Winning the Tour this year and never to be seen again is not what cycling needs.
"Cycling needs guys that are champions, there from February through to October, which Froome is doing at the moment.
"Christopher Froome, for me, is great for cycling."
Roche was speaking on the eve of the 10th anniversary edition of the London to Paris event and Froome hopes to top the podium by the Champs-Elysees on July 21.
The 28-year-old's chances were simplified when Team Sky colleague Wiggins was ruled out by a chest infection and knee injury suffered during May's Giro d'Italia, which had been his season's target.
A leadership battle had been simmering in the background since last year's Tour, which Wiggins won by superior time-trialling, despite being inferior to Froome in the mountains where the race will be decided this year.
"It will make a lot more room for racing and talk about the racing alone," Roche said.
The race is sure to be compelling, with many predicting multiple Grand Tour winner Alberto Contador - with Roche's son Nicolas in support at Saxo Bank-Tinkoff - to be Froome's nearest challenger, while others are sure to have a say.
Four-time Olympic champion Wiggins, who is 33, will be back, Roche predicts.
The Irishman said: "Champions don't die. They may have knee problems, but they come back.
"Chris is younger than Bradley, but at the same time Bradley was a trackie and became a road man.
"Bradley isn't old as regards a roadie and he's trained extremely hard in the last couple of years to get to the level that he's at."
Roche also believes Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford should do his best to keep Froome and Wiggins in the team.
Roche added: "I'm quite confident Bradley will come back and hopefully what's happened to him now might bring him down a peg, to realise it's better to have two leaders in a team capable of winning than being the only unique leader.
"It's an incredible arm for any team to have two potential winners.
"Their strength is them staying together. If they leave and go their separate ways it may be good for cycling, because we'd have two top guys riding for two different teams.
"But at the same time I think it's in their own interests to both stay together."
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