LONDON (Reuters) - Team Sky must lick their wounds after a disappointing Tour de France campaign and come back stronger next year, 2013 winner Chris Froome said on Tuesday.
Having won back-to-back Tours thanks to Bradley Wiggins and Froome, Team Sky were expected to be on top of the podium after completing the final stage along the Champs-Elysees.
But their hopes of a third successive victory were dashed when defending champion Froome was forced to abandon the Tour on stage five because of a fractured wrist.
“It’s devastating for us as a team having won it for the last two years,” Froome told Sky Sports News.
“We put a lot of expectations on this year’s Tour but I think it has probably been a good readjustment for us to reevaluate things and just look at exactly where we are and how to improve.
“It is easy to get lulled into a false sense of security on how easy it is at the time but it’s a huge ask winning something like the Tour de France.
“I don’t think we can ever go there and think we’ve got this one in the bag, it’s never the case.”
In the absence of the 29-year-old Froome, Team Sky pinned all their hopes on Richie Porte but the Australian struggled on Stage 13 and slipped down the general classification from second to 16th.
It was suggested that 2012 winner Wiggins, who was overlooked for the Tour, should have been in the team but Froome defended Sky’s decision to back Porte.
“I think the management chose the best team at that time,” Froome said. “In hindsight, you can always look back and say, well if we’d done this and put that rider there, but you can’t change things.
“Sometimes things just don’t work out. That’s bike racing. That’s sport. We are going to have to go back next year and give it our all again.”
Astana rider Vincenzo Nibali went on to win the Tour, but Kenyan-born Froome is determined to take the yellow jersey back from the Italian next year.
“It’s been quite refreshing to come in now knowing I’m not going in as defending Tour de France champion,” said Froome, who hopes to ride in the Tour of Spain, which starts on Aug. 23.
“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.
“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.”
Reporting by Michael Hann, editing by Ed Osmond