Froome narrows the gap on Cobo to take first Grand Tour stage win

Chris Froome wins stage, Vuelta a Espana 2011, stage 17

Chris Froome predicts that bonus seconds could be what makes the difference after the Sky rider's all-out duel with Spain's Juan Jose Cobo on the slopes of the Peña Cabarga climb on Wednesday's Vuelta a Espana stage 17.

"I've not thought much about the days ahead, but for sure I'll keep fighting all the way to Madrid," Froome said, "and time bonuses are probably the only way to do that."

"Cobo was extremely strong today, and that was one of the hardest days I've ever had on the bike."

As for Wiggins - who finished 12th - Froome said "some days he's stronger than me, other days I'm stronger, but for the last two and a half weeks we've all fought very hard."

"It was quite an eventful last two kilometres, I'd watched the finish last year and I knew that last kilometre was very decisive."

"With 800 metres I thought I'd held him off, then in the last 100 he came back again, and just when I thought he would win, he faded a bit and I got past him."

Asked if he thought he could be in the lead if he had not worked for Wiggins on previous stages, Froome answered, "It's easy to look back and say ‘if this' or ‘if that', but that's the way it is."

"I do know that I've learned so much from Bradley that if it hadn't been for him then I wouldn't be in the situation I am now."

"It's always been my dream to go for a Grand Tour classification, but I never thought it would come so soon."

Still a solid third overall, Wiggins tweeted later that some fans at least had been hostile, shouting "you win we kill you", but praised Froome for riding so strongly nonetheless.

"Chris Froome is going from strength to strength, superb. And all that after people shouting at him, 'you win we kill you', unbelievable," Wiggins said.

Related links

Vuelta a Espana 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index

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