Speaking to NBC Sports from Santa Barbara, California, 2013 Tour de France champion Chris Froome struck an optimistic tone, looking ahead to his recovery and the Vuelta a España.
“Spirits are high,” Froome said. “I’m looking forward to getting back into some racing. Trying at least to get something out of this season.”
Team Sky’s captain withdrew from stage 5 of the Tour de France, suffering a broken left wrist and another fracture on his right hand.
Looking back at how the Tour unfolded after his exit, Froome said, “It really would have been a different race had Alberto and I been there in the mountains. It’s been difficult for me to watch from afar actually, watching how Nibali in the mountains has been relatively unchallenged. He hasn’t had people attacking him, it hasn’t been a sort of mano-a-mano fight for the yellow jersey. That’s sad for a race like the Tour de France. I would have loved to been there to actually have that race up in the mountains with him.”
But Froome was quick to say, “Nibali definitely does deserve to win this year. He’s ridden a really good race.”
He was cautious not to set expectations too high for his run at the Vuelta a España. “I’m riding around with a splint still,” said the Briton. “For now I just want to get to the race. Try to get fit enough so I can race the Vuelta a España. There’s gonna be a lot of tough competition there.”
Froome is enjoying a stint of training in California, heading up to Napa to ride. “I look forward to spending a few hours in the saddle and maybe catching up with Andrew Talansky [in Napa],” he said.
Based on Froome’s state of mind, it’s unlikely that the two battered Tour leaders will do much commiserating. They’ll probably be looking ahead to their late-summer trip to Spain.