Sky's Chris Froome looks forward to 2015 after a "tough" 2014 season that included losing the Vuelta a España to Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and seeing Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) win the Tour de France.
"2014 has been full of ups and downs, it's has been a tough season," Froome said. "I'm happy coming out of the season in relatively good form and at least injury free. I'm happy heading into the winter, the Vuelta was good for me to get things back on track."
Froome arrived in Leon, Spain, on Friday to speak with the press ahead of the Ponferrada World Championships – his last race of 2014. Two weeks ago in the same area of northwest Spain, he placed second overall to Contador in the Vuelta a España by 1-10 minutes.
It was Froome’s second grand tour without the same success that Sky is accustomed to. He crashed three times in the Tour de France and abandoned with broken bones in his wrist and hand. Even with several early season wins – Oman and Romandie – the Tour abandoned highlighted a rocky season that included crashes in the Critérium du Dauphiné (1) and the Vuelta (2), and back problems.
"I learnt how to deal with setbacks," Froome continued. "I gained experience to deal with disappointments and cut the losses and focus on the next race. I missed Tirreno-Adriatico with back pain, having to do strength work in the gym, having to come back from the fractures... It's been a year when I had to work hard to get back to the point that I had at the Vuelta."
Froome also had a good look at the rivals he will likely face at the 2015 Tour de France. On television, he saw Italy's Nibali ride clear of his rivals with both him and Contador away with fractures. He dismissed the idea that Nibali won thanks to the lack of rivals.
"You can't go back and say that, that's doesn't make sense and it's not how cycling works. He won this Tour outright. I don't think it's right to go back and say that he wouldn't have won if so and so wasn't there," Froome explained.
"Nibali's always been a Grand Tour contender, this isn't the first Grand Tour that he won. He's always been there or near. It's good to have him there and compete against him."
At the Vuelta, Froome saw Contador back to the best he has been since his doping suspension in 2011 and 2012. Contador also had to abandon the Tour, but came back for his home race stronger than Froome and sent a warning to team Sky.
"Alberto is really the benchmark in stage races at the moment. The way he bounced back he showed that he is definitely going to be the guy to beat next year. I imagine that he's going to be just as hungry to get back to the Tour next year."
"You always have different rivals, but Contador is really hard to face. One asset is my strength in the time trial, so I'm quite eager to see the 2015 Tour route, and if there is going to be more time trials then I want to use that to my advantage.
"My goal is to be as competitive as possible in Grand Tours for as long as my body will allow me to be. I don't think I hit my best yet. 2013 was a dream season for me, but I don't see why I can't do that again in the future. I do believe that I can win another Grand Tour, I'm definitely going to work hard to make that happen."
Chris Froome says that he will play a team role for Great Britain during the elite men's road race at
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