Probably the best word to describe Chris Froome as he stood on the podium of the Tour of Spain in the leader’s red jersey in the Tour of Spain would be – thunderstruck.
The Kenya-born Briton has been racing as Wiggins’ wingman in the mountains of the Vuelta, riding strongly in Sierra Nevada and again on the Covatilla. He was also up there with Wiggins on the two punchy steep uphill finishes in Valdepeñas de Jaen and El Escorial.
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But in the Salamanca time trial, he came into his own, and Sky’s plan ‘B’ is now the man in the lead of a major Tour – something Froome never would have expected.
“I’m more than surprised,” Froome told Cycling Weekly. “The team told me I had the freedom to go for it in the time trial, but I didn’t think I’d get such a great result.”
“I mean, long time trials like this suit me, but I thought I’d be looking at a top ten at best.”
“It was a good course, but this was right up my street.”
“The team has been fantastic, all the staff have been incredibly supportive, working their asses off for us.”
“It’s just been a dream Tour so far, but I’m going to take this on the day by day, see how it goes. “
Froome certainly has a lot of experience in stage racing, given he has ridden in four major Tours in his career: the Tour de France in 2008, the Giro in 2009 and 2010 and now the Vuelta. And this year in Spain he’s already taken part in the Tours of Murcia, Castille and Leon, Catalunya and Andalusia.
“I’ve done quite a bit of stage racing in Spain, and I really enjoy it as a country, so I’m pleased that this has happened here.”
As Froome pointed out in the winner’s press conference, for Sky, the leader’s jersey and two riders in the top three spots put them in a commanding position, far better than if they were fighting to take the lead.
“It’s a perfect place for the team to be in with the two of us so high up there on GC, but it’s definitely not going to be easy to hold onto the jersey,” Froome said.
“I got the green card from the team to go for it in the time trial, and I guess I just had a good day. It’s fantastic.”
“And now I’ll give it everything to try and remain in contention.”
Vuelta a Espana 2011: Related links