Chris Froome (Sky) says that he is ‘content’ with his performance in Tirreno-Adriatico. The Briton placed second overall behind Vincenzo Nibali after the final time trial – and won stage four to Prati di Tivo along the way.
Nibali (Astana) usurped Froome at the top of the general classification on the penultimate stage after a do-or-die downhill attack during an extremely tough day that saw a third of the peloton fail to finish. Nibali’s tactical nous and descending skills distanced Froome, and the Italian effectively won the race on the finish line in Porto Sant’Elpidio.
For Froome to claw back the 34-second deficit from Nibali over the short 9.2-kilometre final time trial course was an impossibility. In the end, Froome took back 11 seconds to finish the race as runner-up, 23 seconds behind Nibali.
Nibali has criticised Sky’s reliance on ‘racing by numbers’, particularly the use of SRM power data, and said that he distanced Froome on stage six by having “strong legs and courage” rather than relying on instructions from a DS in a team car.
When asked if he thought the race hadn’t gone well, Froome was upbeat: “It’s not that it didn’t go well, I’m happy with what I’ve done. I’m happy with the work the team did for me. The goal was always to win, but I’m still content.”
Sky has done exceptionally well so far this year. On Sunday, Froome’s team-mate and likely Tour de France helper Richie Porte won Paris-Nice in France, giving the team a boost. Froome himself won the Tour of Oman in February and, of course, a stage win in Tirreno itself.
“The teams doing really well and it’s lifting all of us,” said Froome. “The win in Paris-Nice motivated us here. In my opinion, it can only be a good thing.”
Just like last year with Bradley Wiggins’ early-season success, the question of whether Froome is pushing too hard too early in the season arises. “I can only speak for myself, but I wanted to [do well]. It’s not that I aim for the results, but I came off a good winter, I didn’t have any sickness or problems.
“I wouldn’t say I’m on my best form but I’m on track for July. Any results here are just a bonus for me and a good indication that I’m heading in the right way.”
And having experienced a tough race on Italian soil, did Froome have any tips for team-mate Wiggins when he aims to win the Giro d’Italia in May?
“There is only one word to win the Giro, I think it’s grinta [aggression, endurance]. That’s it.”