movingtarget wrote:Froome is no longer unknown. His Vuelta performance in 2011 plus the Tour indicate where he is at except against Andy and Contador who did not ride the Tour. His Vuelta 2012 ride, most people agree was mainly the result of fatigue. The 2013 Tour and maybe also the Giro should be fascinating races to finally see some riders face off against each other in peak form in their first GTs for the year. Also the team tactics and resilience of Saxo, Sky and the other top teams should be interesting to watch.
Froome is unknown and untested against the best climbers, Contador and Schleck; I'd even include Samu and Purito as being possibly as strong as him in the mountains. His 2011 Vuelta ride really doesn't give us much insight into how he will perform in the tour next year. Just look at his competitors in that Vuelta:
Cobo (has done nothing this year)
Wiggins (on his team so won't have to compete with him anyways)
Mollema (zero chance of even coming close to Contador's or any of the other top GC riders level)
Menchov (past his prime).
Monfort (not likely to repeat any great GT performances)
Nibali (out of form at the time, but is doing the Giro next year so doesn't matter anyways)
The only realistic GC contender that was at that Vuelta that could contend in next year tour was Van Den Broeck. And Froome is way above him.
As for his performance this year, it is much easier to ride away from that field on those parcours than it will be in the 2013 tour (which will have much harder parcours, and a much tougher field).
Just to clarify what I think of froome though, I don't think Contador and others will easily ride away from him in the mountains. I think he will be one of the big contenders for the podium. But since we haven't seen him going up against the best climbers on equal ground, his limits are unknown. Which can actually be a very good thing.