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Chris Froome (Team Sky) takes the win in the Saitama Criterium
"Froome is going to be the rider to beat for the next three or four years"
A report in Spanish specialist website biciclismo.com cites Movistar directors Eusebio Unzué and José Luis Arrieta as saying that they were trying to sign Chris Froome in 2011 when the Briton produced his breakthrough result in the Vuelta a España.
Froome finished second in the Vuelta 2011, behind Juan Jose Cobo but ahead of teammate Bradley Wiggins. It was by far his best ever result in a Grand Tour and made Team Sky desperate to re-signing him as a possible alternative to Wiggins. Froome went on to take his first Tour de France podium in 2012 and then won the Tour de France and dominated stage racing in 2013.
According to Biciclismo, Unzué and Arrieta tried to get Froome to sign with them “but the problem was that he started getting some big results during the negotiations. We were talking with him at the start of the Vuelta, but what looked promising suddenly became reality. He got on the podium and there was no way Team Sky were going to let him go after that. And time has proved them right,” Unzué said.
Unzué does not believe that Froome would be a more successful rider in Movistar than in Team Sky because “on a sporting level he is what he is.” However, he does state that Froome might have taken another Tour de France - presumably that of 2012 - and a Vuelta - in the same year, where Froome finished fourth - had he been with the Spanish squad.
“Either way, he’s going to be the rider to beat for the next three or four years,” the Spanish team manager predicted.
Unzué praised Team Sky as “being a team that have improved cycling’s image."
"Their success has coincided with the sport’s globalisation. That’s why beating them in the [UCI World Tour] teams classification is especially satisfying. It means you’ve beaten the reference point. They’ve been extremely strong at certain points in the year, but we’ve been more consistent.”
Movistar will have Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde as team leaders in 2014 but has lost world champion Rui Costa, who will move to Lampre-Merida.