Chris Froome feels he can continue to race for at least five more years, by which point he would be 38. In an interview with Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, the Team Sky rider also claimed that very few riders - "maybe no one" - would be able to handle his training regime.
“I am convinced that I can keep going for another five years - so up to 38 years old," Froome said.
The assertion did, however, come with a condition: "It must be at top level."
Five more years would see Froome compete until then end of 2023 and would give him a career span of 16 years after turning professional in 2008.
Froome's current contract with Team Sky runs out at the end of 2020. If he were to continue riding for five more seasons, he would likely have to battle rising star Egan Bernal for the leadership role within Team Sky, the Colombian having recently signed a five-year deal. Froome has already seen his position as sole Tour de France leader toppled by Geraint Thomas this season after the Welshman took his maiden Grand Tour victory at the French race.
Froome has been the dominant Grand Tour rider in recent years, having won four Tours de France, a Vuelta a Espana and the Giro d'Italia. This season, he attempted to do the Giro-Tour double. He won the Giro in dramatic style with a long-range attack on the Colle delle Finestre on stage 19. However, he was unable to take a record-equalling fifth Tour de France and finished third overall.
Questioned why few had been able to beat him in Grand Tour contests, Froome said that his training was key.
"I think that few riders can handle my training regime - maybe no one. My workouts are very intense. I always try to push my limits," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"By constantly looking up your limit and going over it, you can increase your volume. You have to find it normal, as it were, to push your boundaries. I always want to become better as a cyclist. It is a kind of obsession. I am therefore fully committed to it. I really want to know every detail."
Froome is yet to announce his programme for next season and has not discounted returning to the Giro d'Italia to defend his title. He also said that he'd love to target the Monuments at some point, but admitted that his desire to win the Grand Tours made races such as Liège-Bastogne-Liège hard to work into his schedule.
"I love the Monuments. If Liège-Bastogne-Liège were to be ridden at another time ... I have, however, accepted that I have to be prepared for stage races," he said. "It is not a question of physical fitness or athletic qualities, but of preparation. I won't change now, but maybe I will do it for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
"I do not deny that the fifth Tour victory is a goal. I want to be on par with Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain."