Chris Froome has no issues with rival teams defending the red jersey early in the Vuelta a España as he readies himself for the final half of the race

Team Sky’s Chris Froome says that he is happy to let other teams carry the weight of the leader’s red jersey at the Vuelta a España while he “rides into the race” for the final two weeks.

On stage four, the second summit in northwest Spain to San Andrés de Teixido, the favourites’ spots stayed the same with Froome still at four seconds from Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and just ahead of Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

BMC’s Darwin Atapuma took over the race lead from an escape. On Wednesday it will be BMC’s turn, but on Tuesday it was Movistar taking responsibility.

“Well BMC has to control now. We are in a pretty good position certainly with the team, we prefer to save a bit for the last half of the race,” Froome said.

“But at the same time, I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to get the leader’s jersey if I had the opportunity to go for it. I’d go for it, of course.”


Chris Froome speaking before the Vuelta a España


Movistar turned the throttle heading into the final 11.2-kilometre San Andrés de Teixido climb, finishing high above Spain’s northwest coast. They thinned out some lesser climbers, but Sky’s Froome, Leopold König and Peter Kennaugh remained for the final.

“They obviously seem to be playing the tactics game because they let the red jersey go to BMC,” Froome added. “Even though they had all nine riders in the final before the climb, I think they are actually trying to save their legs a little bit thinking about the next two weeks.”

Kennaugh tested Movistar’s fortress with a long-range attack in the final two kilometres. Immediately, overnight leader Ruben Fernandez and Movistar reacted.

“It was just to put a bit of pressure on the Movistar guys,” continued Froome. “It was interesting to see the red jersey Fernandez go on the front when Pete attacked. It was good to see that they did react to Pete.

“It’s good for us to still have him up there [in the classification]. We got myself, Leo and Pete in the top 10 [third, eighth and ninth]. All things considered, we are in a good place.”