Chris Froome admits this year’s Vuelta has been a massive learning process and he will continue giving it his absolute all during the final five days of action.
"Getting the guys to work around me and letting them know what I need has been a really valuable learning process. "
The Tour de France runner up battled through three brutal mountain stages heading into the second rest day on Tuesday, and currently sits fourth in the overall standings.
Although he has lost time on GC rivals like Joaquim Rodriguez, Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde, Froome remains upbeat about his performance and insists his experiences in Spain will have a big impact in the future.
“I’m doing everything I can, every single day,” he told us. “I don’t know where I’m going to end up by the time the race finishes in Madrid, but the most important thing for me is what I’m taking out of this race - a great deal of experience.
“This has been my first time leading a team and having that weight on my shoulders. Getting the guys to work around me and letting them know what I need has been a really valuable learning process.
“It’s been great as well to race against these kinds of competitors as well, who are a lot more punchy and much more explosive.
“It’s all information which is going into my memory bank for the future. It really is a pleasure to be in this position.
“Okay, in terms of my condition, I’m maybe not at the best that I can be, but this has been a massive learning curve for me and I just hope I can take away as much from it as I can.”
On the up
Indeed, the steep, punchy climbs Froome has experienced over the last three days have been in stark contrast to the longer, more sustained drags he encountered at the Tour.
Monday’s summit finish up the Cuitu Negru was arguably the toughest of the lot and Froome was unequivocal in his assessment of the now-notorious ascent.
“That was such a hard climb,” he admitted. “I’m struggling to think about what I can compare it to.
“There are not many stages that you do which finish up a climb that is 20km long and the last 4km is an average of almost 20%. I don’t think the screen or TV can do that justice. It really is a gruelling climb.
“There was a stage with about 150 metres to go where I looked at the ramp ahead of me and thought ‘I might have to walk up there’!
“It’s tough to look at other guys and think about trying to stay on the wheel. I just tried to ride my own speed up there and survive as best I could.
“The hardest part of the race is probably behind us now I think and it’s just day by day now into Madrid.”
The action resumes on Wednesday with another summit finish up the Fuente De and culminates on Sunday with a sprint stage in the centre of Madrid.
Getting the guys to work around me and letting them know what I need has been a really valuable learning process. Chris Froome