Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) believes that Wednesday’s stage of the Vuelta a España, which contains no fewer than six categorised climbs, will be the toughest stage of a Grand Tour he’s ever faced.
Froome currently sits eighth in general classification, 1-18 down on race leader Tom Dumoulin, having shown impressive form on stage nine’s summit finish after struggling two days prior and dropping out of the top-10.
But now the Brit, along with the other overall contenders, will face an extraordinary test on a gruelling stage 11 which comes directly after the race’s first rest day. It could be the first day that sees a major shake-up on GC.
“I’ve never raced such a tough stage in a Grand Tour, so I don’t know what will happen,” Froome told AS.
“The weather is set to change, it’s expected to be a lot colder and will maybe rain. Coming after the heat of the first week, there could be some big time gaps and a lot of people could abandon.
“It will be the most important stage of this Vuelta,” he added.
Although he suffered some struggles in the first week and narrowly missed out on a stage win, Froome insisted he is still “really motivated” for the race despite saying he is “not in the same condition” as he wasin his successful Tour campaign.
Nevertheless, Froome could be eyeing a move into the red leader’s jersey of Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) on Wednesday’s stage, with the Dutchman unsure of what to expect from himself on the mountain passes of Andorra.
“[On Wednesday] we will have the hardest stage of this Vuelta, and at the finish we will know more,” Dumoulin said.
“Normally I would say that it is too much for me, but stage 9 was also not typical, so we will see. We showed on Monday and the days before that we have a strong team that takes responsibility as well, and we can be proud of that.
“We will fight for it and go full gas to the finish line, and then we can draw conclusions.”