Arguably the most improved rider on the Team Sky roster in 2011, Chris Froome had a breakout season after a stirring second place at the Vuelta a Espana – a race that marked the birth of a new Grand Tour contender.
The Kenyan-born Brit was able to string together a consistent three-week performance in Spain, taking the lead of the race before a nail-biting battle with Juan Jose Cobo as the three-week race went down to the wire.
It was a powerful time trial performance on stage 10 in Salamanca which saw Froome propelled into the race lead, riding in tandem with Bradley Wiggins to display an amazing show of strength as the Spanish spectacle hit the mountains.
A daring attack and last-gasp stage win on Pena Cabarga was just reward for a performance which formed one half of the most successful Grand Tour ever for British riders.
The challenge for Froome heading into 2012 will be to replicate that form across a season and continue the meteoric rise which captured the imagination of the cycling world.
He says: “I think it’s been a steady learning curve over the course of the year that’s seen my results improve. I’ve been doing some good work in training with Bobby [Julich] but my regime has not changed a great deal and we’ve just been building on the things I’d done with Rod [Ellingworth] the year before.
“I’ve been putting the same hours in on the bike and think my improved results are the culmination of a few other things. I’ve learned to feel that I belong in those select groups once the peloton splits on the climbs, and I know what I am capable of physically now from my experiences at the Vuelta.
“I think there was evidence of that at the Tour of Beijing because when I applied what I’d learnt, another good result came. It’s been an interesting year, for sure, and I couldn’t be happier with the end result.”
Career highlights pre 2012:
2005 Tour of Mauritius - 1st stage two
2006 Tour of Mauritius - 1st stages two and three
2007 Tour of Japan - 1st stage six
2008 Giro dell'Appennino - 3rd Giro del Capo - 2nd overall
2009 Giro d'Italia - 6th stage 14; Giro delle Regione - 1st stage five; Giro del Capo II - 1st
2010 British National Time Trial Championships - 3rd; Commonwealth Games time trial - 5th
2011 Vuelta a Espana - 2nd overall and 1st stage 17; Tour of Beijing - 3rd overall.
Original article: http://www1.skysports.com/news/17543/7408860/