ASPEN, Colo. (VN) — Putting an end to speculation, Sky’s Chris Froome and teammate Richie Porte told VeloNews Saturday they would not be contending for overall victory at the USA Pro Challenge.
Both men lit up the climbs of the Tour de France last month, with Froome taking three stages and the overall win, and Porte shredding the field in a punishing support role, as Froome’s right-hand man, in critical moments.
Given Froome’s dominating performance at the Tour, and their well-publicized close friendship, some have wondered whether Froome would arrive in Colorado on top form, or perhaps ride in support of Porte to return the favor.
The answer is no and no. Both riders acknowledged that their fitness is nowhere what it was on the roads of France, and that they’ve come to the USA Pro Challenge to ride in support roles, and to bring their fitness up heading into WorldTour races in Canada next month, prior to the world road championships.
Froome told VeloNews that other than competing in post-Tour criteriums, he’d done very little focused training. Time off the bike, combined with the altitude in Aspen (7,900 feet), proved to be a “shock to the system” during his first ride in Colorado, on Thursday.
“The second day was better,” Froome said. “Today [Saturday] was the third day, and I’m starting to feel a little more acclimatized. So hopefully it’s not too much of a shock to the system on the race day. We rode up Independence Pass, which was the highest I think I’ve ever been on the bike. And that was quite something.”
Still, Froome said, he won’t be racing to wear the leader’s jersey the way he has so many times this season. Instead, he said he was more than willing to ride in support of his Sky teammates.
“Joe Dombrowski did well last year, and he’s going to give it another shot this year,” Froome said. “And we have a dark horse for the race, maybe, in Kanstantin Sivtsov. He’s going pretty well after the Tour. For myself and Richie, we’ve had a bit of time off, so it’s more about getting back into it, and using this race to lift up our form towards the world championships.”
Porte was even more frank about his own fitness, saying that he’d put on weight since the Tour had ended and that his jersey fit a bit more snugly than it had in Paris four weeks ago.
“The last month after the Tour, I did the criteriums, but I haven’t done a hell of a lot of training,” Porte said. “Now that I’m here, it’s kind of a little bit of a shame, because it’s a cool race. It’s a cool area. I think maybe for next year I’d like to stay on it, and be in good shape for it.”
The USA Pro Challenge starts Monday in Aspen with a 66-mile circuit race. The race ends on Sunday, August 25, in Denver.