Chris Froome happy to concede Vuelta lead to a non-GC contender to lessen team workload

Froome says he'd be comfortable letting the Vuelta a España red jersey slip to a breakaway rider to reduce his team's workload on the road

Chris Froome at the Vuelta a España stage seven (Sunada)

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Chris Froome (Sky) will be in for a long ride in the race lead if he is to win the 2017 Vuelta a España, possibly holding the jersey for 19 of the 21 stages.

>>> Five talking points from stage seven of the Vuelta a España 2017

For that reason, he could let an unthreatening rival take the red top if it becomes too much of a burden.

Froome took over the red leader's jersey on stage three. He held the lead for one day early in stage three of the 2015 Tour de France, but this would be the first if he keeps the reins in hand through to the race end.

"I would be open to giving up like to someone in the break today, someone who would not be a threat to the overall GC," Froome said.

"Having said that, the race is always on and there are always crashes, so we have to be position and we are in control of the race, and I'm happy to stay in the leader's jersey.”

Chris Froome at the Vuelta a España stage seven (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

He paused and added, "We definitely wouldn't want to give it up to someone who is a threat to us in the GC, that's for sure."

Dutchman Jetse Bol (Manzana-Postobon), who began the day at 8-55 minutes back, looked like he could take the overall lead from the escape group at one point on stage seven on Friday. However, Sky closed the gap to 8-38 at the finish and Froome maintained it.

Froome must go through the leader's protocol daily after the stage. The leader, along with some other classification leaders and the stage winner, must stand on the podium, go through the interview line, give anti-doping samples and attend the press conference.

"There is definitely more weight and work that comes with the leader's jersey in a Grand Tour. We've worked hard in the team to try to make those extra duties as race leader as comfortable as possible, those hotel transfers too," Froome added.

"I've become used to that position in the year now, it's not something that's new to me, but it certainly does require more time at the end of the day."

Froome finished and went to a waiting Sky car. His other team-mates had left around one hour earlier in the Team Sky bus.

He faces two tough stages over the weekend. On stage eight, the riders race up ramps of 18 per cent on the finishing climb before the finish in Xorret de Catí along the Costa Blanca.

Froome leads by 11 seconds over Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) and 13 over Nicolas Roche (BMC Racing). Other dangerous rivals are close behind.

"Tomorrow's final is very hard with ramps over 18 per cent on the final climb before we drop down to the finish. Yes, it's one of the more crucial stages of this year's Vuelta," Froome said.

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) commented that Froome must attack to feel safe heading towards the third week time trial.

"I attacked in Andorra, I attacked in that next finish. I'm doing everything I can to make the race when I thought it was the right moment," Froome continued.

"Obviously, I'm in a fantastic position with the leader's jersey. It's not up to me to make the race the other guys have to fight too to make up time."

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1