PAMPLONA, Spain, Aug 17, 2012 – Britain’s Chris Froome, second
behind compatriot and Team Sky teammate Bradley Wiggins in the Tour de
France, will be bidding to upset Alberto Contador’s comeback from a two-year
doping ban in the Tour of Spain which starts on Saturday.
Olympic bronze medallist Froome is bidding to go one better than last year
when he finished runner-up behind Spaniard Juan Jose Cobo, who is now riding
for the Movistar team.
“It’s been a pretty chaotic summer so far,” the 27-year-old Froome told
“My focus was on getting through the Tour, and then to the end of it.
“What we did there was a huge achievement for the team and then to carry
straight on to the Olympics after that made it an epic summer.
“It wasn’t easy to retain my focus after the Tour and the schedule has made
it harder because I’ve not had the time to tailor my training specifically for
the Vuelta so I’m not going into it the same way as I did the Tour.
“But I’m confident, still very motivated, and eager to lead the team for
the first time.”
Froome had been frustrated by team orders to protect Wiggins in the Tour de
France but he will be the focal point during the three-week Spanish race.
“It’s a fantastic position for me to be in and I want to make the most of
it,” he added. “I’ve never done two Grand Tours back to back before so I’d
like to see how I cope with that.
“With so many uphill finishes it’s bound to be a really challenging race
and there’s going to be no hiding if the form isn’t there.”
Contador only returned to action following a two-year doping ban at this
month’s Eneco Tour of the Low Countries in which he finished fourth overall.
The 2008 Vuelta winner will be supported in the three-week race by
compatriots Jesus Hernandez, Daniel Navarro and Benjamin Noval in the
nine-rider Saxo Bank team.
Hernandez, Navarro and Noval were at the 29-year-old’s side when he
achieved his last victory at the 2010 Tour de France.
Contador also won the Tour of Italy in 2011 with Hernandez and Navarro, as
well as Italy’s Matteo Tosatto but was stripped of both the France and Italy
Tour titles following a failed drugs test the previous year.
“These have been long months of suspension when I did not always want to go
out and train,” said Contador.
“People’s affection helped me. I have tried to alternate my training routes
around different parts of Spain, I have checked out the stages of the Tour so
that I am not always at home in the same area,” he said.
There are 22 teams competing in this year’s race.
Spain: Andalucia, Euskaltel (Igor Anton/ESP), Movistar (Juan Jose Cobo/ESP,
Alejandro Valverde/ESP), Caja Rural
France: AG2R (Nicolas Roche/IRL), Cofidis (David Moncoutie/FRA), FDJ-Bigmat
Belgium: Omega Pharma (Tony Martin/GER), Lotto-Belisol (Jurgen Van den
United States: Garmin, Argos-Shimano (John Degenkolb/GER)
Italy: Lampre (Damiano Cunego/ITA), Liquigas
Denmark: Saxo Bank (Alberto Contador/ESP)
Britain: BMC Racing (Philippe Gilbert/BEL), Sky (Christopher Froome/GBR)
Kazakhstan: Astana (Fredrik Kessiakoff/SWE)
Luxembourg: RadioShack (Maxime Monfort/BEL)
Netherlands: Rabobank (Robert Gesink/NED, Bauke Mollema/NED), Vacansoleil
Russia: Katusha (Joaquin Rodriguez/ESP, Denis Menchov/RUS)