Chris Froome failed to improve on his sixth place overall after yesterday’s penultimate stage of the Tour of Catalonia, won by Dutchman Stef Clement.
Joaquim Rodriguez, who won the race in 2010, still leads, four seconds ahead of fellow Spaniard Alberto Contador heading into today’s seventh and final stage in Barcelona.
Clement, riding for Belkin, pulled away from a small breakaway group to claim yesterday’s stage from El Vendrell to Vilanova i la Geltru.
Froome spent the whole stage in the safety of the peloton, and while he conceded that he has very little chance of finishing on the podium today, he has been able to draw positives from his first race back after injury despite being 17 seconds adrift of the lead.
“Alberto Contador will no doubt try everything he can to take the jersey, but I’m just going to be happy to finish off a good week of racing,” the Team Sky rider said.
“I know where I am with my condition now. It’s nice to fight for the victory but I’m not on the level of the other guys just yet, and the punchy circuit doesn’t suit me.
“[The Tour] suits Purito [Rodriguez] and Contador far more than it does me but I’m really happy with the feelings and sensations I’ve had here.”
The 28-year-old, who won last year’s Tour de France added: “It’s been a good experience racing in extreme conditions that I’m not used to, and that will all serve me well for the races to come.”
Elsewhere, Britain’s Ben Swift sprinted to second place on stage three of the Settimana Coppi e Bartali in Italy yesterday as his Team Sky team-mate Peter Kennaugh retained the overall lead ahead of today’s finale.
Swift was aiming for a second victory in the four-day race after his triumph on stage 1a, but was pipped to the line in Crevalcore by Cannondale’s Elia Viviani.
Kennaugh followed in the peloton to maintain his 42-second advantage at the top of the general classification with just the 10km individual time trial remaining.