It’s official – Britain has a new stage race superstar. Chris Froome came within just 13 seconds of pulling off the biggest Grand Tour upset of modern times in the Vuelta and must now be considered a genuine contender for next year’s Tour de France.

Why not? Three weeks ago even a stage win from the Sky rider would have been a remarkable achievement. Nobody, Chris included, knew there was such untapped potential. Here’s a rider who has proved he can time trial and climb with the best and he’s still only 26.

You’ve got to feel a little bit sorry for Bradley Wiggins. Just eight weeks after having his collarbone fixed, he finished third in Spain, one place better than his breakthrough performance in the 2099 Tour de France. That’s a good ride, only not quite as good as Froome who not only managed to drop his team leader on the steepest slopes but he also added insult to injury by beating his boss on the flat TT stage.

Froome even manages to match Wiggins in the comeback stakes. Chris didn’t even start the Tour de France after he was wiped out by the rare tropical disease bilharzia.

This Sky man had no form and it looked as though he was out of a job. What a difference a couple of months can make. After this giant step it seems just about anything is possible from Chris Froome.

Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly