GRINDELWALD, Switzerland (AFP) – Britain’s Chris Froome admitted he experienced one of his toughest days as a bike racer as the Tour of Switzerland peloton fought rain, cold and poor visibility on stage 3 Monday.
Kenyan-born Froome had a brief spell in the spotlight Sunday when he attacked on the first day in the high mountains, only to be brought to heel by the peloton on the way up to Crans-Montana.
On Monday, any thoughts of a repeat were far from his mind as the bleak weather surrounding the 2,165-meter (7,100-foot) summit of the Grimselpass, the first of two climbs on the stage, left the peloton with very challenging conditions.
“That was nasty out there, really nasty,” Froome told AFP at the stage finish, where he dropped to 30th overall at 10 minutes, 55 seondsc behind new race leader Damiano Cunego of Lampre.
“The descent was probably worse than the ascent because you could barely see 15 or 20 meters in front of you, what with all the mist. We were up in the snow, and it was raining, it was really nasty.
“It got better as we got lower down, but I just felt completely blocked up. I don’t go too well in the cold, and I just felt like I couldn’t move my legs.”
Froome, who is fighting for a coveted place in Team Sky’s Tour de France lineup, was however quick to praise the teammates who helped keep his legs ticking over.
“The team did a fantastic job trying to keep me up there today. It’s definitely not their fault that I wasn’t there … my legs just wouldn’t turn,” he added.
“I felt like I had the legs yesterday. But if there’s anything I’ve learned it’s just that I need to be patient, trust in my condition and trust in my legs.
“I just have to go with those sensations now.”
With Britain’s Bradley Wiggins securing overall victory at the Criterium du Dauphine on Sunday, Team Sky is feeling buoyed ahead of the yellow jersey challenge next month.
But Froome is not yet counting on being one of the lieutenants to help Wiggins, a fourth place finisher on the Tour de France in 2009, during the July 2-25 race.
“I’m on the long list for the Tour but there’s a lot of really good riders on the team and it also depends on what the team wants to do at the Tour,” he added.
“At the moment it’s still undecided.”