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Froome not afraid of another Formigal-style ambush in Vuelta a Espana

Chris Froome (Team Sky) has said that he is not worried that he might face another Formigal-style ambush of the kind that effectively lost him the 2016 Vuelta a España.

The Sky leader was asked if he was concerned that Sunday's short but difficult high mountain stage to Sierra Nevada could see a repeat of the mass attack in the Pyrenees last year, where Sky were caught out at the start of the stage.

"I'm not afraid of a Formigal situation repeating itself," Froome insisted. "I'm here with a very different team this year, and we're in the leader's jersey which is different to Formigal, too. I find it difficult to imagine that kind of situation arising again."

"But having said that, we're ready, and guys like [Alberto] Contador (Trek Segafredo) will surely be on the attack from early on."

Froome was taking no chances on Friday's stage finish into Tomares, on paper a relatively flat finale and one for the sprinters. However, the reality was different, and riders were faced with a technical run-in and a short, sharp ascent in the last kilometer. As stage winner Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors) pointed out, "it wasn't a finish for sprinters at all, it was one for puncheurs."

"Today [Friday] my objective was to stay in front, not to gain time on the splits, and Gianni Moscon helped me get in a very good position in the final," Froome said after finishing the stage in seventh. "Then I told Gianni to go for it, he was well-placed and he did very well."

Second on the stage, albeit well behind Trentin, Moscon said, "I was in a good position, so why not try? Shame that Trentin got it, but he's a strong rider, that's OK."

"It was something not planned, you never know how the race goes. It was good, we always do a lot of work for Froomey, we believe in him 100 percent, and today there was a small chance for me."

Asked if he could go for another win, Moscon responded that "I don't know if there'll be any more sprints like this, with a hard finish, lots of little climbs in the last four kilometers, and we've got to stay focused for now on Froome. But we'll see how it goes, there's a lot of climbing left."

Looking ahead to Saturday's first hors categorie climb to Sierra de la Pandera, Froome kept his cards fairly close to his chest, saying "it's very difficult to predict this Vuelta as we saw yesterday (Thursday), changes can come so quickly out on the road."

"Saturday's final is tough, steep, and I expect Contador and [Vincenzo] Nibali [Bahrain-Merida] will want to make up time in the race. But we are ready, the team is going fantastically well, and we have a lot of faith in them."

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Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.