Chris Froome and Team Sky face a barrage of questions over several scandals, yet racing in Tirreno gives them a measure of respite.
TREVI, Italy (VN) — Chris Froome and Team Sky say there are no concerns, that they will be ready to contest the Giro d’Italia overall this May.
The British super team has been hit with scandal after scandal, including Froome’s case for asthma drug Salbutamol from the 2017 Vuelta a España and concerns over possible TUE abuse with former team star Bradley Wiggins.
In central Italy, though, they found a certain peace. The Tirreno-Adriatico’s technical roads and the racing, away from the headlines, are just what they need to be on track for the Giro this May.
Froome, gapped slightly in the finish to the hilltop town of Trevi Friday, says that he is not worried and that he has plenty of time to reach top speed.
“I think so,” Froome said after stage 3 of Tirreno-Adriatico. “I head up to Tenerife after this and have another block up there before racing the Tour of the Alps, and maybe another camp before the Giro too.
“It’s good to be back on Italian roads, especially with the Giro in mind. It’s definitely good to race on these roads; it’s a different style of racing, the road surfaces. … It’s just something to get adapted too since it’s been a few years.”
Teammate Geraint Thomas marked eventual stage winner Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) and took the race leader’s blue jersey.
“It’s nice to talk about something else other than Brad [Wiggins] and what went on back then. It’s nice to get into the race,” Thomas said. “I am in the best place obviously, but with tomorrow a long mountain finish, I think I’d bet on Froomey.”
The queen stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico Saturday ends with an 11.75-kilometer summit finish at Sassotetto. Froome only sits three seconds back behind Thomas in the overall.
Froome’s last Italian race was the world championships in Florence in 2013. That day, under heavy rain, the entire British team pulled out as Rui Costa raced toward the rainbow jersey. Tirreno-Adriatico is what he needed to test himself in the “bel paese.”
He handled himself perfectly Friday on the twists and turns before the narrow roads up through Trevi. All of his six Sky teammates rode at the front and he sat in the slipstream. Only in the final push did he slip behind.
“He changed his program to come here to Tirreno-Adriatico to be ready for the Giro d’Italia,” sports director Nicolas Portal said.
“He wants to get those small details. Yesterday was a very dangerous final, so they are different, most of them are nice roads, but different from what you’d see in France or Spain when you pass through the towns. You need to know the details, and he’s doing what the other riders do by reconning and racing in Belgium before the classics.”
Froome will keep the Italian flavor from here until the Giro starts on May 4. After the Tirreno-Adriatico ends Tuesday, he will spend time in Tenerife, Spain, at an altitude camp and then race the Tour of the Alps in Austria and Italy.
“Chris has the Giro and Tour this year,” Portal added. “He’s on track and you can see, he was already much better than in Ruta del Sol a couple of weeks ago.”
“It’s still early days, and this is part of my build up,” Froome said. “I’m not at my best yet, but on my way there.”