Despite cracking on the final climb of stage 14 of the Vuelta to Puerto de Ancares, Chris Froome (Team Sky) remains in third place overall. The Tour de France runner up was in trouble on the lower slopes of the final climb, needed assistance from Rigoberto Uran and Sergio Luis Henao after Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Tinkoff Bank) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) attacked.
Although the Sky leader regained contact with the Spaniards – and even managed his own attack – he was dropped inside the final two kilometres, losing 38 seconds to stage winner Joaquim Rodriguez. Froome now lies third overall, 1:41 behind Rodriguez, and tied on the same time as Valverde.
Sky’s director sportif Marcus Ljungqvist admitted that Froome missed the speed to match the accelerations from his main rivals but hoped that his rider would find his footing. Froome entered the race as one of the main favourites for overall victory but despite a valiant showing on the stage to Jaca he has lost time on all of the mountain finishes.
“Today was the first of the really tough mountain stages and it was a big battle again among the top contenders," he said on Sky's team website. "Froomey was just missing that little bit extra on the climb but he hung in there well.
“Saxo Bank controlled the pace during the stage. You can’t say we had an easy ride but we were able to sit tight in the peloton and wait for the final climb.
“Froomey is still up there and in the mix. There is a long way to go and this was the first really tough mountain stage. There is plenty more climbing to do, starting tomorrow, and we will look to support him again.”