Team Sky leader Chris Froome is considering racing the Vuelta a España for a third straight year in 2016, after the Tour de France and the Olympic Games, confirmed the team's sports director Nico Portal.
“It’s like the Volta a Catalunya: he likes to do it, the level is very high, and in the Vuelta a España the weather’s almost always very good. That all suits him.”
At this point in time, though, the main interest point for Sky is Froome’s form as he builds to the Tour de France, and according to Portal as he looks towards July “he’s going very well and we’re really happy with his condition right now.
“Compared to last year at this point in time, when he was ill”- and lost over half an hour of one stage of the Volta - “he’s doing fine. He’s in good shape, and he’s been training well.”
With many more top names in this year’s Volta, the Catalan race was a critical test given the depth of the opposition present and Froome’s spell of six weeks away from racing, and as Portal sees it, “all he’s lacking is the top-end speed, which comes with greater competition.
“On the two big mountain stages that decided the race, Chris was up there until the very last part of the stage, where there were the big accelerations. When you see all the top names here, it’s very encouraging.”
Froome provided yet more signs of rising form during stage 7 itself, blasting away with two attacks that saw him briefly go clear on the Montjuic circuit, leaving race leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar) isolated.
Although Froome was then sucked back into the main peloton and Quintana won overall, Froome nonetheless showed he was not simply racing to follow wheels and in the process consolidated his eighth place overall too.
After Catalunya, “He’ll go to training camp, then his next race will be the Tour of Romandie, then he’ll go back to training and then it’s the Dauphiné and the Tour,” Portal said. Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Portal said, is ruled out for now.
“It’s a slightly light race program, but then in the second half of the year he’s got the Tour and the Olympics,” and, perhaps, the Vuelta a España, too.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 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. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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