Germany’s Tony Martin won Monday’s individual time trial at the Vuelta a Espana, but Team Sky have taken a firm grip of the overall standings with Britons Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins in first and third place.
“We’re in a very strong position with two riders so high up in the overall,” said Froome, who was second in the 47km time trial. “I think we’d rather be where we are right now rather than trying to make up time.”
Froome leads Denmark’s Jakob Fuglsang by 12 seconds, with Wiggins third, 20 seconds back.
“It’s definitely not going to be easy to hold the lead and I’ll take it day by day,” Froome added.
Wiggins is designated Sky’s team leader for La Vuelta and Froome has just one win as a professional in the Tour of the Cape in South Africa back in 2009.
“It was never the plan for me to become a second ‘captain’ on the team, but the team gave me the green light to give it everything in the time trial, and to try and stay in contention, and I had a really good day,” Froome said.
The 26-year-old was born in Kenya and got his university education in South Africa, but he now has a British passport.
“I hope this lead inspires other people with unconventional backgrounds to try for a cycling career and not to think it’s an impossible dream,” he said.
The winner of the Tour de France’s individual time trial this year in Grenoble, Martin triumphed again after riding faultlessly on the flat course in warm weather.
The German was so exhausted at the finish he keeled over and collapsed on the ground after crossing the line.
“It’s a really important victory, and [it was] good to beat [Fabian] Cancellara and Bradley Wiggins, two of my big rivals for the world championships in September,” Martin said.
Cancellara was fourth.
“I don’t think the differences will be so big in the world championships, but it’s a good sign nonetheless,” Martin added.
The winner of Paris-Nice, and with HTC-Highroad ending its sponsorship this year, Germany’s most promising young rider would not be drawn on where he would be racing next year.
“I’ll be revealing that soon. I’ve signed with a team, but there’s still a few details left to sort out,” he said with a broad grin.
The Vuelta a Espana had a rest day yesterday and a transfer to the country’s remote northwest. Racing resumes today with the third major summit finish of this year’s event, at the Manzaneda ski station in Galicia.