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Team Sky rider Philip Deignan has said that Chris Froome is determined to get back to the top of the sport, with the Irishman confirming that the 2013 Tour de France winner has used the disappointments of 2014 to fuel his drive for this year’s campaign.
The Briton crashed out of last year’s Tour, losing the chance to defend his title, and then went on to be beaten by arch-rival Alberto Contador in the Vuelta a España.
Although he was second overall there, Froome was disappointed not to finish up in the red jersey of race leader and is intent on getting back to the GC summit in this July’s Tour.
Deignan backed Froome in the Vuelta and will potentially be part of the Sky team for this year’s Tour. He seems impressed by what he has seen thus far.
“He’s determined, for sure,” he told CyclingTips. “He still has that hunger there. He just works incredibly hard.
“You can see already that he is pretty determined to make up for last year. He seemed to be on track before Tirreno so it is a bit unfortunate getting sick.”
Froome made his season debut in the Vuelta a Andalucia/Ruta del Sol and beat Contador to take the overall title. He was due to ride Tirreno-Adriatico but withdrew from the line-up in the final build-up to the race.
Deignan says he believes easing back rather than pushing through was a wise move.
“I think it was the right decision just to set off the gas a bit, recover first and get healthy,” he said.
“It is obviously early days. I think he is on track.”
Deignan won a stage and finished ninth overall in the 2009 Vuelta a España. He had a frustrating time after that due to illness and injury but, after a strong season with UnitedHealthcare in 2013, was given a contract with Team Sky prior to the start of 2014.
He settled in well, riding strongly in several events. He was part of Team Sky’s lineup in the Giro d’Italia and rode for others in the event, but picked up third on stage 18 to Rifugio Panarotta. He then went on to net second and sixth on stages of the Tour de Suisse plus seventh overall in the Tour de Pologne.
Deignan rode the Vuelta a España as support for Froome and helped him to second overall there, one minute ten seconds behind Contador.
He then ended his season in the Tour of Beijing, taking a solid 18th overall.
While Deignan has the ability to chase good results for himself, he states he is satisfied with his role of playing support for Sky leaders such as Chris Froome and Richie Porte.
“My aim is primarily to just do the job that I am asked to do for the team, whatever team leader it is,” he said.
“I will focus on doing that job, and then take some opportunities whenever I can.”
After riding the Tour de Langkawi in support of Sebastian Henao, he is next due to compete in the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali. It begins on March 25.