Chris Froome has downplayed concerns over his Sky team’s performance during the Tour de Romandie, stressing that he is confident that he and his teammates will be ready for the defence of his Tour de France title in July.
Sky have typically performed strongly at the Tour de Romandie, winning three of the past four editions, but the squad has been unusually subdued this week. Froome surprisingly lost over 17 minutes on stage 2 to Morgins, though he recovered to place 4th in the following day’s time trial and then won Saturday’s tough mountain stage to Villars.
Paris-Nice winner Geraint Thomas, meanwhile, came home more than 27 minutes down on Saturday’s stage, while Froome had appeared to be lacking in support when he punctured ahead of the final climb on stage 2.
“It has been a tough week for us as a team,” Froome admitted in his winner’s press conference on Saturday. “A couple of guys have come straight from the Classics and are still quite tired from the Classics. We’ve also been a bit unlucky this week with a few illnesses.”
Nairo Quintana has highlighted his status as Froome’s chief challenger for the Tour de France by edging towards overall victory at the Tour de Romandie with just one stage remaining. The Colombian moved into the lead after winning stage 2, and his Movistar team impressed in controlling the race on Saturday – a contrast with Sky’s travails.
“I think our team has struggled this week but I’m not at all worried about the Tour de France,” Froome said. “Some guys will recover after this and come back even stronger and the number of strong riders we have on Team Sky to potentially make up the Tour de France squad… We have a really strong team, so I’m not worried about the Tour de France selection right now.”
Froome’s victory on Saturday came after he attacked in the company of Tejay van Garderen (BMC) on the first of two ascents of the stiff climb of Barboleusaz. He dropped the American three kilometres from the summit on the second time up the mountain, and then held off the yellow jersey group on the rain-soaked descent to win by four seconds.
“It’s not first time I’ve won a race in bad weather,” Froome said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s in the Tour de Romandie or the Tour de France, a victory is always something that feels so special. It’s just a feeling of happiness, amazing happiness.”