Chris Froome (Sky) says that it is highly unlikely he will be fighting Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) for the third place on the Vuelta a España podium in the final five days of racing between here and Madrid. Valverde has said that Froome “continues to be a threat” but the Briton insisted he is no longer thinking about the general classification.
“I find it a compliment he might be worried about me but I haven’t even looked at the GC to be honest,” Froome, currently fourth at 4:52 and nearly three minutes behind Valverde, told Cyclingnews on Tuesday.
“I don’t think he really needs to be worried, he’s riding away from me on every climb. Maybe [Juanjo] Cobo [Valverde’s Movistar teammate, who battled against Froome for the Vuelta lead in 2011] has been telling him some horror stories from last year, how I chased him all the way to Madrid!” he joked.
“I’m sure that Valverde will keep his guard up, but for now I’m just holding on to what I’ve got, unless somebody really makes a mistake somewhere.”
He doesn’t rule out going for a stage win. “Obviously if there’s an opportunity, now that the three of them [Valverde, Rodriguez and Contador] will be watching each other, I’ll take it. If I were them I wouldn’t really care about a guy who attacks in the last kilometre if he’s three or four minutes back, knowing he can’t take time. But who knows if Valverde is still worried about me?”
Froome believes that “Rodriguez will win, unless something drastic comes up. He’s had some pretty hard days thrown at him and some pretty explosive attacks from Contador and he seems to just sail after them quite casually. He doesn’t seem to have too much stress and with those time bonuses, he’s so explosive in the last 200 metres that I don’t see anyone coming over him for them.”
After the Vuelta, Froome says that he would like, if possible, to race both in the team time trial on the opening weekend of the World Championships and the individual time trial event, where he already has taken a bronze medal in the Olympics this year.