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(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."

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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