Chris Froome (Team Sky) posted a Twitter photo of himself smiling with his legs resting on the wall of the team bus after stage 3 of the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol and the climb to the finish atop the snow-covered Alto de Hazallanas.
Froome could only fight to limit his losses when Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) attacked early on the climb but the Team SKy rider rode a controlled race and finished just 19 seconds behind his Grand Tour rival, who won the stage alone. Froome is 27 seconds behind Contador in the general classification.
“Wow, that was tough. I wanted a good challenge to start off the season & I certainly got one,” Froome Tweeted.
“I’m really happy with how it went,” Froome told TeamSky.com after not speaking to the media at the summit finish.
“Obviously it’s hard getting beaten and hard coming second to Alberto. I know for the work I’ve done coming in, I’m really happy that I was up there today. All the hard training this winter is paying off now.”
“My objective is to be really good later on in the season, building towards the Tour in the next few months. Alberto’s race programme is ahead of mine with the Giro set to be his first big target of the year. I’m really happy with where I’m at right now. There’s a lot of headway to make but there’s plenty more to come, and this is a great place for me to begin the season. The legs feel good. I haven’t done much intensity training but I’ve set up a really good foundation and I think riding like this is proof of that.”
Team Sky versus Tinkoff-Saxo
The 2015 Grand Tours are set to be a battle between Team Sky and Tinkoff-Saxo, arguably the sport's two super teams. They had different strategies and had different results in Spain.
Tinkoff-Saxo team controlled the stage and perfectly set-up Contador but Team Sky finished the stage with three riders in the top ten on the day and have four riders in the top ten overall with Froome, Pete Kennaugh is fifth, Mikel Nieve is sixth and Kanstantsin Siutsou is seventh.
Kennaugh impressed as he lead the chase of Contador for much of the climb before Froome found his legs and set off in lone pursuit.
“The team did a superb job today keeping me out of trouble,” Froome said. “We’ve got a lot of strength in depth and the GC has spoken for itself in the race. We had four riders in the top 10 coming into this stage. Everyone is eager to do well and everyone is hungry.”