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Although he cracked on Sunday and lost over a minute to his chief rivals, and although he now sits a full two minutes 27 seconds behind the race lead, Chris Froome has refused to rule out winning the Giro d’Italia. The Team Sky leader said on the race’s second rest day that he will fight on, and appeared to dismiss suggestions that he could withdraw from the race before the end.
“I always came into the Giro with the plan of building into the race, with the bigger goal of doing the Giro d’Italia and going on to the Tour de France,” he said, speaking about his form. “It was never my objective to arrive right at the beginning of the Giro absolutely firing on all cylinders because as we’ve seen in riders who’ve done that in the past, they reach July and just have nothing.
“I was always looking to build through this period, but I think the crash [before stage one] was a setback to me. I also think the second crash [during stage eight] didn’t help, also on my right side, but we’re here and that’s the nature of cycling. I’m here, soaking it up, and really enjoying racing here in Italy. It’s been tough but it’s been good bike racing.”
Froome has never looked to be in 100 percent condition. This is complicated somewhat by his crash prior to the opening time trial, where he finished 37 seconds behind world TT champion and 2017 Giro winner Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb).
He lost further time on stage four when he placed only 30th and while he was a solid 10th on Mount Etna, he never looked to be one of the strongest riders. His fans hoped that things would continue to improve on Sunday’s stage to Gran Sasso d’Italia, but instead he cracked and finished 23rd, a distant one minute and seven seconds behind stage winner and ongoing race leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).
Froome is now almost two and a half minutes back and describes Yates’ team as being in ‘such a commanding position.’
He said that it was great to see another British rider, but said that he will do what he can to get back into contention. “I’m going to be trying to give him a tough time in the second half of this race…” he pledged.
“It is a big gap but we’ve got some extremely tough racing coming and we’ve got a long time trial as well. I wouldn’t say it’s likely at this point, but stranger things have happened.”
Given Froome’s salbutamol case and given his aim to win the Tour de France, many have suggested that he will pull out of the Giro if it becomes clear that he cannot win. However he indicates that this is not the case.
“I’m going to take the race one day at a time. I still want to do the best I can do: if that’s 20th place, if it’s second place, or if it’s first place,” he said.
“I’m here to race. I’m a bike racer and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Indeed, Froome explains why he believes that he could be better in the days ahead.
“Whenever you crash the body is going to take a bit of an impact and I’m not pedalling the same as I normally do,” he said. “That’s something I hope today, the rest day, will hope compensate for a little bit. Hopefully I start feeling a little bit more like myself in the second part of the race.
“I’m taking it day-by-day at this point. I’m hoping to feel better and obviously if I am feeling better I’m going to take the race on the best I can.”