21 October 2020

Chris Froome remains upbeat about Vuelta Espana despite losing 11 minutes on opening stage

Seven-time Grand Tour winner Chris Froome remains optimistic about his return from injury despite losing more than 11 minutes on the opening stage of the Vuelta Espana.

It was unclear what sort of condition the 35-year-old Team Ineos rider was in ahead of the three-week stage race in Spain as he continues his recovery from the high-speed crash which left him in hospital last year.

Froome (left) insisted he is not the team leader for Ineos after a disappointing first stage (SIPA USA/PA Images)

And cycling fans got their answer when he was dropped on the penultimate climb on Tuesday and rode in well down on the race leaders.

Yet while his ambitions for overall victory were all but ended, Froome kept a level head about his slow road back to the top.

Speaking on Twitter, he said: "Baptism by fire for the first day back in a grand tour since my crash! @lavuelta knows how to dish out the pain.

"All part of the process in getting back! Looking forward to the fight over the next 3 weeks."

Froome, who is riding his final race for Ineos after ten years with the team as he prepares to join Israel Start-Up Nation, also insisted the plan is for him to ride in support of teammate Richard Carapaz.

Carapaz took second on the opening stage behind Tour de France runner-up Primoz Roglic.

“It was a great day for us with Richard coming second. He’s right up there in GC and he’s our team leader here," Froome told Cycling News after the stage.

"We’re going to be helping him as much as possible throughout the race to try and get us the overall victory."

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