Tour de France: Sir Dave Brailsford confident Chris Froome will bounce back from early exit
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 09/07/14 9:30pm
Sir Dave Brailsford is confident Chris Froome will bounce back strongly from his early Tour de France exit and says he could now turn his focus to winning the Vuelta a Espana later in the summer.
Froome was forced to abandon the Tour after crashing twice on wet roads on a treacherous fifth stage, just a day after he had badly injured his wrist in a fall on stage four.
Froome was due to fly home from the race on Wednesday night and will be replaced as Team Sky’s leader by his close friend Richie Porte.
“We really believed in Chris and we really believed he would win this race, but it’s not to be this year," Brailsford said.
“It was all a bit chaotic. It’s just unfortunate for Chris. He has worked ever so hard to be in this shape. I’m sure he will be back. I’m sure we will see him in the Vuelta and we will go from there.”
Porte in a storm
Brailsford insisted Froome was fit to race on stage five despite wearing a strapping on the wrist injury he sustained in his crash on stage four.
“He was fit to start,” the Team Sky principal said. “He was in a lot of pain, there’s no denying that. [But] the injuries sustained in that crash today, on the other side to yesterday, were the ultimate reason why he pulled out.”
Brailsford will now turn his attentions to helping Porte deliver Team Sky a third consecutive yellow jersey.
The 29-year-old Australian lies eighth overall after the fifth stage, 1min 54sec behind race leader Vincenzo Nibali, but 43 seconds ahead of pre-race favourite Alberto Contador.
In Richie Porte we have got a very capable guy who can lead the team. He’s in great shape. He has had a slower start to the season than normal but he’s fresh, he’s coming into form at the right time, he’s climbing really well.
Sir Dave Brailsford
Porte has suffered a difficult season so far after struggling with illness for much of the year, but Brailsford insists he has the form to mount a serious challenge for victory.
“In Richie Porte we have got a very capable guy who can lead the team," he added. "He’s in great shape. He has had a slower start to the season than normal but he’s fresh, he’s coming into form at the right time, he’s climbing really well.
“We’ll keep battling on with Richie up there on GC and the fight in the mountains lies ahead. We want to get to those hills as soon as possible.”
Nibali enjoys a comfortable lead over his main rivals for victory thanks to a magnificent performance on stage five, when he safely negotiated 13km of wet cobbles to finish third on the day, dropping Contador and, more surprisingly, Classics specialists such as Fabian Cancellara and Peter Sagan along the way.
“It was exciting, wasn’t it?” Brailsford admitted. “It might not have worked out for us, but if you’re a bike fan and watch what Nibali did today, that was pretty impressive.
“Fair play to him. He was unbelievable. To ride away from Cancellara, to ride away from Sagan on the cobbles, that was exciting and we will remember that for a long time.”