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Froome quickly found himself isolated and lost 2-43 minutes – and effectively the Vuelta a España.
“It was also the success of others. Everyone races to win,” the Spaniard told home newspaper Marca.
“Froome is the strongest and everyone races against him. The team sometimes suffers from being far superior and then when you get caught in one of those situations, the entire world is out to attack you.
“It is normal, but it’s good for racing. If you look in from outside, this is good for cycling and the show in general.”
Froome appeared ready to close the Vuelta show with victory in Madrid. He was not in the red jersey, but rode comfortably beside leader Quintana in the mountains and trailed by 54 seconds with a favourable time trial still to come.
Contador and Quintana, however, attacked the Tour de France champion around six kilometres into the stage and rode free.
In the 14-man group, they each counted two teammates. Froome relied briefly on López. After two passes, Quintana took to the front for the final 14.5-kilometre push up to Formigal.
The effort increased his lead from 54 seconds to 3-37 – too much for Froome. He recovered 2-16 in the 37-kilometre time trial and for the third time, placed second overall in the Vuelta.
“It is proof that it is not so easy to win a Grand Tour. You have to watch every day, it is difficult to take time, and any time you can mess up,” López said.
“It is clear that it was a failure for all of us. That day we took an important beating. They can say that we were not well positioned and ready, but it was a result of accumulated fatigue.
“He [Froome] also had won the Tour, [competed in] the Olympics, and it’s not easy to stay focused. Nevertheless, he was physically strong and could win. But the strongest does not always win.
“The team has learned a lot from that day that we can use for the future. Hopefully, it will not be repeated again.”