Great Britain's Chris Froome says that he's in good form for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games time trial despite going deep during Saturday's gruelling road race
The Tour de France champion ranks as one of the favourites to take a medal at the end of the hilly 54.56km test against the clock. Froome finished 12th behind winner Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium) in the road race but says he will have fully recovered from his effort by Wednesday.
“It was a seriously full on race,” said Froome of the road race. “Quite a few people have complained how dangerous it was but it was exciting. No one would have predicted that podium.”
“I felt good. We always knew the race was going to be a bit of a lottery. I wasn’t coming in thinking I was guaranteed a medal or anything. I thought the guys all rode well. I certainly didn’t leave anything out there.”
When asked whether he thought that he might have affected his chances in the time trial by putting too much effort into the road race, Froome said: “No not really. I buried myself in London four years ago as well. I was completely spent. And I was fine in the TT a few days later. It should be enough time to recover.”
Froome took bronze in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, behind Bradley Wiggins and Tony Martin (Germany). While GB team-mate Wiggins has returned to the track for Rio, Martin is one of Froome’s biggest rivals in the TT, along with Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands), who pulled out of the road race after just a few kilometres.
“Maybe he thought the cobbles and the bunch racing was not a wise idea ahead of Wednesday,” Froome said of Dumoulin’s road race withdrawal. “I’ve no doubt he will still be a serious threat.
“The other guy who I thought showed well on Saturday was Fabian Cancellara [Switzerland] – we could see him back to his TTing best. I would rate those two.
“Then also Tony Martin. Although the course is hilly it only takes three or four minutes to get up there – Tony can do that just fine – and then there are long flat sections which he will enjoy. Also Vasil Kiryienka [Belarus] and Rohan Dennis [Australia]. Those five I would say will be my main rivals.”
Froome was due to meet up with coach Tim Kerrison to take an in-depth look at the time trial course on Monday. The long route, climbs and technical nature of some sections mean that a rider will have to pace themselves well to tackle the final hill and still have enough gas to handle the flat run-in to the finish.
Froome has already proven that he can pace himself over a hilly time trial, placing second in the Tour’s first TT behind Dumoulin, then winning the shorter mountain time trial on stage 18, this time beating Dumoulin into second.
“Tim Kerrison is flying out this evening [Sunday] and will stay close to the TT circuit. We will head out there tomorrow and have a look at it and come up with a plan; a pacing strategy.”
“It is something we have done a lot of work on and it worked really well at the Tour this year. Ideally we will be able to replicate what we did at the Tour, although it’s a very different type of effort. Almost 60km.”
There is still a chance that GB may be handed a last-minute second place in the men’s TT, having only originally qualified one rider. Several withdrawals due to injury in the road race, notably Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali and Australia’s Richie Porte, have left the start list short. Should GB be handed a second spot, Geraint Thomas would step in to ride along with Froome.
“That would be exciting,” said Froome of Thomas’s possible inclusion. “I’m not sure exactly how the system works. Obviously it’s unfortunate for the guys who were injured.”
Froome gave praise to Thomas’s performance in the road race, where the Welshman had been in the lead group heading into the final descent. Unfortunately, he crashed on a corner and lost touch with the leaders, eventually finishing 11th and one place ahead of Froome.
“I’ve no doubt he would have been in a medal-winning position,” said Froome.
“For me personally once we hit the final circuit and G got in the move, we weren’t under any pressure. It was a great situation for us. We had been a bit unlucky earlier because we were hoping [Ian] Stannard would pull us across to the foot of that climb on the second circuit but his bike broke. Steve [Cummings] then did an amazing job to put his hand up and do that job and make sure we brought it together.
“So then we hit the final circuit, G went up the road leaving me and Adam [Yates] in the main pack. Then on the second descent of the Vista Chinesa there was a crash towards the front of the bunch and about four or five riders went down, causing a split. Adam got in front of the split but I had to slam on my brakes. That was the moment when Nibali and Aru went.
“On that last climb I knew they were within a minute and I gave it a go. I still had a bit left in the tank. But not enough.”