Chris Froome admits pulling out of the Tour de France was one of the hardest things he has ever had to do.
The 2013 Tour de France winner crashed during stage four and had damaged his wrist but things were made a lot worse on stage five when Froome fell off his bike twice more.
Stage five was the infamous cobbled stage of the race but the Brit fell twice before he even reached the first cobbled section. Froome damaged his wrist more in the crashes and decided to abandon the race as he felt he couldn't control his bike any longer.
The Sky team leader admitted he was feeling good after three successful stages in England but after stage four he realised things weren't right.
According to Sky Sports, Froome said: “We were on such a high after the first few stages over in the UK. The support over there was insane, second to none, and it just felt like such a deflation getting over to France and crashing on stage four like that.
“Knowing that it could be the end of the Tour and having to start next day with that at the back of the mind - it was definitely right up there with setbacks as far as setbacks go.”
“It has been a really difficult period and obviously pulling out of the Tour was one of hardest things I've ever done but I think at the time, it was quite clear I wasn't going any further with things the way they were.
“It all started with a crash on stage four and that was just one of those things that could have happened to anyone. Wrong place, wrong time.
“I could feel immediately when I stood up that something was not quite right. I finished (the stage) and had (my wrist) scanned. We didn't see anything worrying at that point but it had swollen up quite a bit.
“I started stage five and conditions were tough and with everything taped and bound in place with a split, trying to control the wrist, I couldn't steer the bike in the way I normally had to control it. On a stage like that you need to use your hands.
“It was quite a savage stage even before we had hit the first cobbled section - I'd come off twice. It was clear to me at that point: this is a long shot. We're not going to get through the cobbled stages now.”
Vuelta a Espana aim
Froome will be attempting to win his second Grand Tour at the end of this month when he races in the Vuelta a Espana after recovering from his fractured wrist.
As long as Froome still has a good team around him next year I think he will go into the 2015 Tour de France as the favourite even though he didn't complete it this year. Even though Vincenzo Nibali won the race he won't be the favourite because some say he only won because the other favourites had to abandon.
Froome believes not going into the race next year as defending champion will help him as it takes a bit of the pressure off.
“It’s been quite refreshing to come in now knowing I’m not going in as defending Tour de France champion again.
“I can probably fly under the radar a little bit more now. I’ve definitely had a taste of how much more pressure going in as reigning champion. It’s not an easy position to be in.
Tour 2015 on the agenda
“For me I don’t need any fuel for the Tour de France. It's a race where I’m always going to give it my all to and do my fighting best. It will definitely spur me on to be absolutely ready for next year’s edition. It’s just one of those things. I’m just going to have to suck it up now and move on.”
In my opinion Froome still has what it takes to win the Tour de France again and I think he will win the Vuelta too as he is the best rider in the field.