• Froome was solid at the Olympics, without the gold he was hoping for (Reuters)Source: Reuters
Chris Froome all but confirmed he will race the Vuelta a España, going for his first Grand Tour victory other than the Tour de France and setting up the mouth-watering battle with Alberto Contador that didn’t happen at the Tour.
16 Aug 2016 - 10:18 AM 

Moments after Froome rode to a bronze medal in the Olympic time trial, the Sky rider told journalists it’s “very likely” he will race the Vuelta.

Froome has already given thought to racing the Spanish Grand Tour, but that was contingent on what happened in Rio.

After his time trial bronze and a good showing for 12th in the road race, Froome didn't really have that standout result which gave him definitive closure for his season.

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“I still need to discuss it with my team and coach,” Froome said. “But it’s very likely that I will be racing the Vuelta a España.”

Froome has had an interesting history with the Vuelta, rising to prominence with a 13-second runners-up finish behind Juan Jose Cobo in the 2011 edition after heading into the race as a domestique for Bradley Wiggins.

He then went in the favourite after finishing second behind Wiggins in the 2012 Tour de France, only to be beaten comprehensively by the Spanish trio of Contador, Valverde and Rodriguez into fourth position overall.

2014 was a scene of arguably the best quality Grand Tour of the season, after both Froome and Contador had crashed out of the Tour de France early. Froome looked a bit out of sorts early, allowing Contador a chance to take too big a lead for the British rider to make up. He did recover to overcome the other contenders to take second place that year, just over a minute down on Contador.

Last year saw an up and down series of performances from the British star, surging at times to drop the other contenders and failing to follow moves at other moments, before abandoning after a crash.

Perhaps his most memorable moment was the battle with Tom Dumoulin for the victory on Stage 9 where he passed the Dutchman and looked the winner, before the new climbing star showed his pedigree to claw his way back to come over the top of Froome to win.  

Hopefully the 2016 Vuelta also contains a similar level of drama and interest with a host of Grand Tour contenders slated to be on the startline for the third Grand Tour of the year.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), Esteban Chaves, Simon Yates (both Orica–BikeExchange), and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL–Jumbo).

Sky's long list for the Vuelta includes other potential general classification leaders in Mikel Landa, Leopold Konig and Benat Inxtausti so whilst Froome will of course be the leader of the squad, the team will have other options.