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Vuelta a Espana

Froome: Cut my teammates; I’ll ride Vuelta solo

The 91-rider group that finished outside the time cut should have been removed from the Vuelta, Froome said.

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PEÑISCOLA, Spain (VN) — Chris Froome says follow the rules, even if it means he would be racing the rest of the Vuelta a España alone.

The reigning Tour de France champion said seven of his Sky teammates should be out of the Vuelta after missing the time cut as part of a 91-rider group finishing beyond the time limit in Sunday’s explosive, race-changing stage.

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“Personally, I think the rule probably should have been upheld, but I understand their thinking, and it’s up to them to make that decision,” Froome said during a press conference on the Vuelta’s second rest day.

“I didn’t make that decision, that was the jury. We weren’t the only team with the riders behind, there were 90 riders back. Direct Energy wouldn’t have any riders left.”

Controversy erupted in the wake of Sunday’s wild stage, in which Nairo Quintana of Movistar and Tinkoff’s Alberto Contador attacked early. They gapped Froome and left more than 90 riders lagging in a huge chase group.

The group finished more than 50 minutes behind stage winner Gianluca Brambilla of Etixx – Quick-Step and more than 20 minutes beyond the calculated time cut.

The race jury later ruled to allow all the riders — plus two others outside the time cut — to stay in the race. It’s not the first time a big group has been allowed to continue despite missing the time cut, but many wondered why the riders were given the exception.

One rider in that Sunday group was Monday’s stage winner, Jean-Pierre Drucker of BMC Racing.

Froome’s comments came as a surprise because all seven of his remaining teammates were in the lagging group, meaning he would be racing the remainder of the Vuelta alone.

Another journalist followed up, just to be sure: “So it is fair to say you feel it is right they should go home?”

“Well, if the rule’s there, it’s there for a reason,” Froome said.