Red letter day for Froome
Team Sky's Chris Froome produced the time trial performance of his life to take the leader's red jersey at the Vuelta a Espana.
By Jonathan Turner
Last Updated: 04/09/11 12:41pm
Team Sky's Chris Froome produced the time trial performance of his life to take the leader's red jersey at the Vuelta a Espana, the final Grand Tour of the season.
The Kenyan-born Briton finished second on the stage behind Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) in the 47 kilometres time trial around Salamanca and it was good enough to see him vault up from 14th to top of the overall standings.
He leads by 12 seconds from Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard-Trek), with Team Sky team-mate Bradley Wiggins third on the day and up to third overall, 20 seconds behind Froome.
Wiggins and Froome had put themselves in contention with superb rides the day before when they finished fourth and fifth respectively on the climb to La Covatilla, taking time out of most of their general classification rivals.
And all eyes were then on Wiggins 24 hours later when he went fastest at the first intermediate time check after 13.3km, one second ahead of Martin who had earlier gone on to set the target time of 55 minutes and 54 seconds.
However Wiggins was 19 seconds behind Martin at the second check and in the third phase of the route it was Froome, who had started four minutes ahead of Wiggins, who suddenly came to the fore.
Froome crossed the line just 59 seconds behind Martin in second place and when Wiggins arrived at the finish he was a further 23 seconds back.
None of the late starters threatened those three at the top of the day's standings and it all led to a huge shake-up on the GC.
Fuglsang splits the Team Sky duo while defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) is 31 seconds back in fourth.
But the likes of Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha), who had started the day just one second off the lead, dropped right down the standings after finishing more than five minutes back.
Dream come true
It all left Froome stunned by the scale of his achievement as he told www.teamsky.com: "It's not really sunk in yet, it's still a bit unreal. I didn't expect to do that today. I thought maybe I'd try and stay in contention or at least be up there close to Bradley but never expected this.
"I'm over the moon, I think I just had a fantastic day and somehow I've ended up in the leader's jersey - it's a dream come true."
Looking back at his time trial, Froome explained: "I think it was the updates from Sports Director Marcus Ljungqvist on the radio which kept me going. To be honest I felt pretty rough out there; I was hurting from yesterday's effort and just felt like I wasn't really going that fast.
"What really helped was Marcus in the team car edging me on, saying 'you're doing great', 'you've got a really good time', 'just keep going like you are' and so on. It was fantastic to have that information and encouragement - at least I knew I wasn't doing too badly!"
Froome has been outstanding throughout the race as he's supported Wiggins and he added: "It's gone really well, we've just been trying to limit Brad's losses every day and try and keep him in contention until the time trial.
"It went especially well yesterday on stage nine which was also a bit of a surprise because we hadn't planned to try and make a difference like that. We went into the stage just trying to keep as close to other GC guys as possible but when we got into the crosswinds up on the mountain with about 4k to go we were in the perfect position to put the hammer down and really go. We just did it naturally and it worked out."