After winning Friday's time trial, Chris Froome says he and Sky will do everything in the final mountain stage to try and win - but is expecting surprises
He sits second overall at 1-21 minutes behind Colombian leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar). Quintana lost 2-16 to Froome, who won Friday’s 37-kilometre time trial in Calpe.
“My team is still very motivated for tomorrow’s stage,” Froome said after the podium celebrations on Friday. “Most of the guys had an easy day today. They didn’t go full-gas to save their legs for tomorrow. It’s going to be an interesting day of racing.
“This Vuelta has been full of surprises, maybe tomorrow could be another one. There are other teams – Tinkoff and Orica – they’re also looking to get times, and it could be a very explosive race. Let’s see what happens.”
Saturday is the final of 10 summit finishes stages in this year’s Vuelta a España. The stage from Benidorm climbs four category two passes and finishes with the 21-kilometre Aitana climb.
“It is not over yet. I don’t think it will come down to the final climb. With more than 4500 metres of climbing, it is going to be a very tough stage, right from the beginning until the end,” Froome added.
“We could see a lot of scenarios developing on the road. It is one of those stages where you have to make the right decisions, about which riders to follow, which moves to follow. It can be a very tactical race tomorrow.”
Froome won two stages in the Vuelta a España so far with Friday’s time trial and the summit finish last week to Peña Cabarga. However, he and Sky let their guard down and paid at the start of last Sunday’s stage. Quintana followed early attacks by Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) in the first 10 kilometres and they rode free, each with two team-mates each, in a group of 14. Froome, in a group without team-mates, lost 2-43 minutes.
In a sense, he is hoping for the same scenario to repeat itself, but this time in his favour.
“I am not the kind of person to keep looking back, and say, ‘What if things were different?’ I am already focused on tomorrow. I am really happy with the result today. Everything went as well as it could have today, and I am just looking ahead. Of course, I am going to keep racing all the way until Madrid,” Froome said.
“Being the last stage, there is a good chance it will come down to a fight between the main GC contenders on the final climb. It could be up for grabs. We could see an aggressive stage right from the start, and it might not be as simple as waiting for the last climb.”
The Vuelta ends with a flat stage into Madrid on Sunday, so Froome and Quintana must fight for the final overall classification places on Saturday.