Chris Froome (Sky) completed the fifth stage of the Volta a Catalunya safely in the front group in 25th place, still in sixth place overall and with a growing sense of quiet satisfaction at how the race - so far - has worked out.
Following a storming start to the season at the Tour of Oman - even stronger than in 2013 - Froome came to the race with some question marks poised over his condition following his failure to take part in his next scheduled event, Tirreno-Adriatico because of a bad back.
However, after five days hard racing at the Volta, Froome says he is satisfied with his form, to the point where he is adding in another major race, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, into his 2014 program.
Speaking to Cyclingnews before the start five start in the bright sunshine at Camprodon - a stark contrast with the near-blizzard, fog and sub-zero temperatures of the day before - Froome said he was “feeling really good, I’m in a great place, a great state of mind.”
“I did have to take a little bit of a break with my back two weeks ago, but it feels great, I haven’t felt it all week and that’s a really good sign. I’m just really happy to be at the top end of a race again.”
“It’s never a nice feeling when I know I can win against those guys [the other favourites]. But at the same time looking at the bigger picture I know what I’ve done to get where I am so far and I know I’ve got a lot of hard work left to do before I go to the Tour, so I think for where i need to be at the moment, I’m spot on.”
Froome’s program after the Volta will be to head to altitude at Tenerife “for two weeks and we’ll step the training up quite a bit there and then I’ll do Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Romandie, go back to altitude and then on to the Criterium du Dauphine.” After which, of course, comes the race everybody has been waiting for, the Tour de France.