Chris Froome will not wave the white flag, but says that Team Sky will not try any “crazy tactics” to upset Vuelta a España race leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar) with only four days left until the race finish in Madrid.
Sky’s leader sits second overall and trails Colombian Quintana by 3-37 minutes. He suffered a 2-43-minute loss Sunday when Quintana and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) pulled off what could have been called a crazy tactic by attacking free in the first 10 kilometres of a mountain stage.
“From our side it’s business as usual,” Froome said after Wednesday’s Mas de la Costa summit finish.
“Now that we’re behind, we’re not necessarily going to be trying any crazy tactics to make up that time. We’ve certainly got a way of racing, an approach, and we’re going to stick to that now and focus on the time trial.”
Out of the overall contenders, Froome is the best time trial cyclist. However, to bridge a 3-37 gap over 37 kilometres may be too much. In the Tour de France‘s only comparable time trial this year, the 37.5-kilometre 13th stage to La Caverne Du Pont-d’Arc, he finished 2-05 minutes ahead of Quintana.
Afterwards, all that remains is the Aitana summit finish stage on Saturday and a flat sprinters’ stage – one of the few in this edition – on Sunday.
Quintana, already the winner of the 2014 Giro d’Italia, appears more confident every morning when he steps off Movistar’s blue team bus to the mass of fans.
“Until we reach Madrid, we cannot say the race is over,” Quintana said. “The long time trial is a one-on-one fight, and we have to defend ourselves well. My physical condition is good, so I expect to have a good time trial. Now I just hope that the luck accompanies me.
“Aitana is the climb that concerns me the most, not because it’s dangerous for me, but it’s a difficult climb. I know I’ll get a lot of attacks there.”
Quintana said that he will ride defensively and leave Froome to try all the tactics, crazy or not, he can to dislodge him. He added, “My chances of winning are good.”
Perhaps convinced in his chances, Movistar already planned a press meeting on Monday in Madrid with Quintana and the mobile communication company’s top brass.