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What we know almost halfway through the Vuelta

Froome is fading

Although he is still in second place, Froome is sliding backwards, at least against Rodríguez, to whom he has given up 52 seconds since the end of stage 4. After peaking for top form in the Tour and Olympics, Froome himself is wondering if he will have the staying power to answer all the attacks that are sure to come next weekend.

Contador’s top fear is Froome and so far, his attacks have been directed at the Kenyan-born Sky leader. After looking strong out of the gates, Froome has faltered, both in the final kilometer of Saturday’s stage and again Sunday over Montjuic, when he was dangerously close to losing contact with the front group and ceding yet more time. Froome needs to hit it out of the ballpark in Wednesday’s time trial if he hopes to do as he wished when he started this Vuelta, which is to improve on last year’s second-place ride.