Saturnia (dpa) – The schedule is in place so Chris Froome can sit in front of the TV on prime time again. When the cyclist’s working day is over, the Tour de France only enters the hot phase.
And the four-time champion in the high-tech bus of the Ineos racing team today has a proven specialist at his side. Because his longtime companion Geraint Thomas – also a former Tour de France winner – shares the same fate. Tirreno-Adriatico instead of Tour, is Froome’s motto after the team management found him unsuitable for the showdown in the Alps and Pyrenees.
Froome has now “100 percent” digested it. “I am the first to recognize that I was not where I should have been,” said the 35-year-old of the “Gazzetta dello Sport” on the sidelines of the eight-day tour. He had fought so hard for his comeback. After his bad crash during the Dauphiné Tour a year ago, when he suffered fractures in his thighs, hips, elbows, ribs and neck, he wanted to be back in the spotlight. And join the elite circle of five-time winners around Eddy Merckx with the fifth tour victory.
Is that it now? Not at all, says Froome. “I think I have many good years to be active in cycling.” The fact that he has already been written off by many experts only gives him “extra motivation”. Froome will make a fresh start in a new environment next year. With the ambitious Israel Start-Up-Nation team – funded by billionaire Sylvan Adams – a team is being built to the taste of the British. “We want to make history with him. It’s as if we brought Messi to Israel,” said Adams enthusiastically and confided two more Tour wins to Froome.
Money does not play a role in the project. Froome’s annual salary of an estimated five million euros would even be slightly higher than the salary he has earned with the British super team so far. “I wouldn’t have signed up for the project if I didn’t believe in it,” emphasizes the exceptional athlete born in Nairobi, Kenya.
His future teammate Rick Zabel is already looking forward to “riding in a team with such a personality”. That does not happen every day and is something special, said Zabel of the German news agency: “But I am also happy that I can all benefit from it. When such a man comes in, it becomes a bit more professional.”
Before that happens, Froome wants to successfully complete his involvement with Ineos after eleven years. If possible with a victory in the Tour of Spain, for which he is captain from 20 October to 8 November. He won the Vuelta twice, once at the Green Table after Spaniard Juan José Cobo’s late doping conviction last year.
He will do many units in the high altitude training camp. And watch the tour on TV, which Froome finds “very entertaining”. “Roglic has a dominant position, it will not be easy to take his time. Pogacar has impressed me. But Bernal is getting better, I think he is on the right track.” Froome will also claim that soon.