Chris Froome (Team Sky) says that he is pushing as hard as he can at the Tour of the Alps and will continue to fight for everything he can get from the race. Froome finished fourth on stage 2 of the five-day race, losing four seconds to stage winner Miguel Angel Lopez in the final metres on Alpe di Pampeago, and now sits fourth in the general classification, which is led by Ivan Sosa (Androni Giocattoli).
"I'm doing everything I can. I'm racing as hard as I can, and I'm not going to give up just because I came fourth today. I think there is a lot to race for," Froome said after warming down at the top of Alpe di Pampaego.
"Astana is very strong and they’ve got a great team here, and I’m sure that they will do everything they can to control the race. There are a lot of people that still want to race."
The second stage of the Tour of the Alps to Alpe di Pampeago was billed as the queen stage and many expected large gaps to form between the top general classification riders. It was also an opportunity to see how the Giro d’Italia hopefuls fared on a proper mountain test less than two weeks before the start of the corsa rosa.
Based on this single mountain effort, Froome believes that there is little between the GC men here.
"Nobody there was riding away from everybody else. It was very close still," said Froome. "Lopez was very impressive again to win the stage - congratulations to him. [Thibaut] Pinot has been really aggressive in this race as well and he seems to be in great shape. I'm sure that he's on track for the Giro. He's not far from the front of the race so I'm sure that he's also building for the Giro d’Italia. I think that everyone that I've seen is on track. [Domenico] Pozzovivo is also very strong on these steep summit finishes."
Froome himself rode a relatively conservative final climb, making his own pace despite a large gap forming between himself and his rivals mid-way up the climb. He still had almost a full complement of teammates with him at that stage and the five riders manoeuvred their leader to the front of the group with just under four kilometres to go. One by one, the Sky riders peeled off, with Kenny Elissonde the final man at the front of the train.
With one kilometre to go, Froome had a short dig off the front, as he'd done the day before, though it was quickly brought back. After the stage, Team Sky DS Nicolas Portal reassured his rider that he was improving as the days pass, and Froome repeated his stance from the first stage that he was on the right path for his Giro bid.
"I rode at the speed that I thought was best," Froome said of the early part of the climb. "I think that I'm in a great position considering my main objective is to be ready for the Giro. I'm on track for that. I'm happy with how I'm feeling. I'm really happy with how the team performed today. I think that we can take a lot away from today.
"As a team, it was a very good test for us and I'm really happy with how we performed, especially Kenny Elissonde in the final. Diego [Rosa] did a great ride and Salvatore Puccio earlier in the stage."
The Tour of the Alps will continue on Wednesday with a short and punchy 138.3km stage from Ora to Merano. It features two classified climbs, including the first-category Passo della Mendola, which is followed by the third-category Passo Palade before a long descent towards the finish that could see some gaps grow in the fight for the overall classification.
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