A fall during training prior to the Vuelta a España on Thursday means Chris Froome (Team Sky) had an unwelcome reminder of the multiple crashes that saw him abandon the Tour de France last July - but there was a major difference this time round. The Sky leader was uninjured from his fall and he remains fully on track for tomorrow’s start.
Curiously enough, the Vuelta’s first summit finish, on stage six of La Zubia, comes on the same road where Cioni won a stage himself in the Vuelta a Andalusia back in 2007. “My win was just at the bottom of the same climb, on a drag just outside the village, rather than higher up where the Vuelta finishes this year.”
“It was a good win for me, from a break of four or five. I jumped away with one other guy and then rode him off my wheel on the final climb. It was like a sprint, almost - in front of [former World Champion] Oscar Freire, too! It was in my first race with Lotto, so that was good.”
As for tomorrow’s opening team time trial, Cioni says, “with the team we have we are expecting a good result and we wouldn’t be happy below the top three. But we will be remembering, too, that we have a long race ahead of us, and we will be taking some precautions compared to other teams.”
“It would be good to get a good start, allow Chris to get a few seconds advantage.” As for the course itself, “it looks more technical on the map than it actually is.” There are some cobbled sections in the first three kilometres, “which is never easy on a TT bike, but it’s certainly less technical than other team time trials I’ve seen on the Vuelta. Even with the roundabouts, it’s a high speed course.”
Sky have not, yet, discussed which rider will cross the line first, and therefore have the right, should Sky win, to take the first leader’s jersey. As for the last one of the 2014 Vuelta, though - it is very clear which rider Sky would like to see wearing that.