“I have no regret at all on how the race unfolded,” the Brit said in a Vuelta press release.
“I did everything I could. I raced to the best of ability. As a team, we really pushed together. I don’t think any of us has any regret. Alberto [Contador] was really impressive in this Vuelta. If I’ve learned anything about racing against him, it’s to not let him get any time because I might never get that time back.”
Despite the two being the current best Grand Tour riders, they have rarely gone head to head in one of the three big stage races. Spain’s Contador tested positive for a banned drug in the 2010 Tour de France and served a suspension at the time Froome emerged. He finished fourth at the 2013 Tour when Froome won, but experts say that he was still not at his best after sitting out a two-year ban.
This year, the Tour de France readied itself for a battle royale that never happened. Froome – with fractured bones in his left wrist and right hand – abandoned on July 9 and Contador – with a fractured right tibia – left five days later on July 14. Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) won the race on July 27.
Both cyclists went without racing while they recovered for the Vuelta’s start on August 23 in the country’s south and both said that they would test the waters, not saying that they would aim for the overall title. Instead, after the first mountain stages and 36.7-kilometre time trial passed, 29-year-old Froome and 31-year-old Contador became the red jersey favourites.
Froome, however, conceded seconds in the time trial and in the two major mountain stages. He was the closest to Contador when the race ended yesterday evening in Santiago de Compostela, but still one minute and 10 seconds off.
“I lost time to Contador in time trialling but it’s not a source of concern. I know how I came into this race. I definitely rode myself in. The Vuelta had a really high standard this year, I’m happy to have been part of it,” Froome explained.
“I definitely owe this result to my team-mates. They’ve been behind me, they’ve supported me throughout the race, even when I had a few bad days earlier on in the race and I think that paid off. I was able to come away with the second place which, given how I came in, I can be happy with that.”
Froome ended his 2014 season yesterday, which included six wins, at the Vuelta and explained that he is already thinking about his next Grand Tour. “I definitely look forward to see the new Tour de France route.”
Overall favourites ride final time trial cautiously in wet conditions; Adriano Malori wins stage