Chris Froome believes victory is probably out of his reach as the Ruta del Sol enters its last two stages, but has vowed to “empty the tank” in the last day time trial as he continues his build-up to a potential Giro d’Italia and Tour de France double.
At this early stage of the season, Froome believes he’s not quite got the edge on his opponents in Andalucia, but is content with his progress, and is happy to help teammate and current race leader Wout Poels on to the top step of the podium in Barbate on Sunday.
“I’m not feeling super-fresh at the moment,” admitted Froome after rolling in with the pack at the end of the relatively flat 166km from Mancha Real to Herrera.
“To win I think would be difficult. The gap is only 30 seconds and that’s not easy with such a short uphill finish on stage four (Saturday’s prickly 194km jaunt from Seville to Alcala De Los Gazules) – and a short TT.
“I don’t see it happening with the strong field that’s here, but it’s very much in Wout’s sights so we’ll be working towards that. Wout is in great shape so we’ll do everything we can around him.”
But Froome’s competitive spirit won’t quite release him from wondering if he might have an outside chance.
“I’m half a minute off the lead at the moment,” he notes, “so I’ll empty the tank on the last time trial. Again it’s another little test to see where I’m at – to see what work I still need to do on the TT bike.”
Poels, meanwhile, was wearing the same trademark big smile at the end of the stage into Herrera as he was at the beginning, stating that Team Sky has never been a happier place, as the British team enjoys the lead in both the Ruta del Sol and the Volta ao Algarve, with Thomas sporting that race’s yellow jersey.
“It feels a very happy place at the moment,” said Poels of Team Sky.
“I’m very pleased with my form at this stage of the season. We don’t let what is being talked about with Chris affect us. We are a happy group and I think it is showing.”