Britain's Chris Froome (Sky) says he is extremely satisfied with Team Sky's opening ride in the Vuelta a España where the team finished fifth,12 seconds after winners Movistar in Saturday night's team time trial. He is now looking forward to the first big mountain stage on Monday.
"Considering how we were in Benidorm last year [in the opening team trial of the Vuelta 2011, Sky finished third last. - Ed.], I think we can be very satisfied," Froome told Cyclingnews at the start of Sunday's stage in Pamplona.
"It's a vast improvement, and we still managed to get second and third overall [in Madrid] last year. It would have been really something to win the stage yesterday. We had a great team, but obviously Movistar knew the course back to front, they're the home team. so it's a kind of poetic victory for them. It's also a nice story." Movistar has never won a team time trial in its 30-year history of Grand Tour racing.
"For us, the main objective was not to lose any time on the other contenders and to stay upright and we did that, so we're really happy."
"I had really good sensations, I don't know how much you can read into that in a 16-kilometre time trial, but I'm really looking forward to the mountains now."
Monday's stage to the summit finish at Arrate, he agrees, will be a day where even though it is far too early to see who will be up there for the win, it will definitely be possible to see who of the top favourites is not up for the battle for the overall.
"There won't be huge time gaps, but it's definitely one where we don't want to lose too much time. If I'm honest with you, we haven't looked at the finish yet. I've heard a lot about it, but we'll look at it in more detail tomorrow."
As for Monday's run to Viana, he said, "Today we'll be looking to see what we can do with Swifty [sprinter Ben Swift]. With the time bonuses, he could even be in the leader's jersey tonight. He's very motivated, in great form, so we'll do the most we can for him and keep myself out of trouble in the final."
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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 Independent, The Guardian, ProCycling, The Express and Reuters.