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The 2013 Tour de France winner Chris Froome has said that he is heading towards the news season in a good position, believing that his runner-up slot in the Vuelta a España has given him the base he needs to have a successful 2015.
The British rider’s morale has been boosted in recent days due to his wedding. While he was disappointed to crash out of the Tour de France and thus be unable to fight for another yellow jersey, he is accepting of what happened and sees the bigger picture.
“I think there will always be ups and down in everyone’s career,” he stated on the team website. “That’s sport, and especially our sport. It’s full of unpredictable hurdles.
“I’m really happy to have got through the season in good stead. The Tour was a disappointment but I’ve still got a few victories I can be happy about this year. Also finishing the Vuelta off in such a decent way, after having all the setbacks – that for me was probably more important than anything else.
“It means I’ll be able to go forward into next year without starting from a negative position. I can go in with a clean slate and give it my best shot.”
Tour aside, Froome’s 2014 season was more than solid. He won the Tour of Oman in February, then went on to place sixth in the Volta a Catalunya and win the Tour de Romandie. He took the opening time trial in the Critérium du Dauphiné and, with it, the lead in the race.
He followed that up with a mountain stage victory the following day, but eventually lost the yellow jersey on stage seven after a fall one day earlier.
The fall affected his form and he eventually ended up twelfth overall; he hit the deck again on stages four and five in the Tour and was forced to withdraw with a fractured hand and wrist.
Still, despite that, he said that the early part of that race remains a big memory for him.
“I think the biggest point of the year for me were the first few stages of the Tour,” he stated. “Starting up there in Yorkshire was something I’ll never forget. It was massive and an incredible experience.
“Coming in as the previous winner and having that home support was huge. In terms of performance and satisfaction, I think the Vuelta was definitely the one. It left me with the best feeling.”
The Spanish race represented his comeback from that injury and although his form was shaky early on, he improved later in the race and ended up second overall behind Alberto Contador.
He states now that he is ‘really hungry’ to start training once again and knuckle down to his preparation for the 2015 season.
Froome earlier raised some doubts about whether or not he would target the Tour, suggesting after the route was unveiled that he might prioritise the Giro d’Italia. He said then that the route was better for him than the French race.
Many have questioned if he will stick to that position, though, with the Tour being of major importance to his sponsors.
He remained non-committal in his latest statements on the matter, although he did seem a little more open to riding the French event.
“Looking to next year, my key goal is just returning to good condition and being at the front of a race again,” he said. “That’s a really big motivation for me. Whether it’s the Tour or any other race, it’s what I love doing.
“I love racing and being able to compete at the front – to be with a team of guys who you enjoy being with, and who you work together well with. That’s what gets me through the winter when I’m riding those long hours on my own.”
He said that he will split his winter between Europe and Africa, with the final decision on the amount of time in either place likely to be made based on weather.