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Team Sky's weakness is tactics, says De Jongh

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Chris Froome (Team Sky) lost more than two minutes to Nairo Quintana in stage 15 at the Vuelta a Espana

Chris Froome (Team Sky) lost more than two minutes to Nairo Quintana in stage 15 at the Vuelta a Espana
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Alberto Contador riding away from his GC rivals

Alberto Contador riding away from his GC rivals (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The Trek Segafredo bikes after another long day in the saddle

The Trek Segafredo bikes after another long day in the saddle (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Chris Froome leads Team Sky

Chris Froome leads Team Sky (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Steven de Jongh with Alberto Contador on the podium

Steven de Jongh with Alberto Contador on the podium (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Whether reality or a matter of perception remains to be seen but, according to Trek-Segafredo’s directeur sportif Steven de Jongh, Team Sky's weakness remains a tactical one.

The British team, which employed de Jongh until he admitted to his doping past in 2012, won a fourth Tour de France this summer in convincing fashion but at the Vuelta a España they were caught on the hop when Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana ambushed them in the third week. The episode effectively ended Chris Froome's bid to win a second consecutive Grand Tour.

Froome and Sky's mistakes on stage 15 of the Vuelta have been well documented but at the Tour they have been near faultless in recent years.

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"The Vuelta is different to the Tour but at the Tour you can also have surprises," argued De Jongh.

Complacency has been a factor at Team Sky in the past and, after a disappointing 2014 Tour, it was admitted that they needed to reassess several aspects within their set-up.

'Contador wants to prove he can still do it'

After a difficult final season at the Tinkoff squad, Alberto Contador appears settled at his new team. Word within the team is that the 34 year-old is enjoying the relaxed environment and professional structure.

According to De Jongh, the Spaniard is even stronger than in recent years and, were it not for the crashes that littered his latest campaign, he would have been a far more competitive force in 2016.

With Bauke Mollema, Jarlinson Pantano, Peter Stetina, and a more stable environment at Trek-Segafredo, the two-time Tour winner will be hoping to recapture his form of old. When team boss Luca Guercilena first approached Contador mid-way through 2016 one of the Italian's main selling points was a stable home.

"He also wants to show the audience he can do it. That's what has helped him continue. He loves training, he loves the bike so if you can still do results and see that you’re still improving then you come to the conclusion that it's not the right time to stop. He's not been lucky and that's been the main cause of doubt but if you look at races like Paris-Nice and Catalunya he was close to winning. He won Pais Vasco and I think that's where he started to doubt whether he should still stop.

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Daniel Benson
Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.