Tour de France remains dream scenario for Chris Froome

Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech)
(Image credit: SprintCyclingAgency©2022)

Chris Froome has admitted he has lots of steps to take and lots of work to do before he returns to his best possible form but describes riding this year’s Tour de France as a “dream scenario”.

Froome only started his 2022 season at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali in late March after a knee tendon injury during the winter kept him off the bike for most of December. The Israel-Premier Tech rider is currently taking part in the Tour of the Alps and then will go on to next week’s Tour de Romandie, a key block of racing when it comes to his plans for  the Tour de France in 2022, his wider ambitions for the summer and beyond.  

“Obviously that would be the dream scenario for me:  to get back into the Tour and be competitive again. But there are lots of steps that need to come before that,” Froome told Cyclingnews, Cycling Weekly and Wielerflits during the Tour of the Alps.

“I think it all depends on how everything goes on this next month and a half. I think that would be a final test to see if I'm ready to go back into a race like the Tour de France.” 

Froome rode the 2021 Tour de France but crashed hard during stage 1 and was left with bruising in his left hip and glute muscle. His Israel-Premier Tech team also revealed his bilharzia disease had flared up again during the race but he fought on to reach Paris.  

To date, Froome has always succeeded in overcoming injuries and setbacks, his gentle voice and boyish looks hiding his determined character. He went well beyond medical expectations to race again after his terrible 2019 crash. Now he hopes to go back to the Tour totally pain free and with the form worthy of a four-time winner. 

Froome’s results at this week’s Tour of the Alps have encouraged him. He has not been in the thick of the action or in the select groups that have fought for the stage victories but he appears to be more consistent. 

“I’m at that point where I don't really have any residual pain or any residual issues from the crash,” Froome explains. 

“The power balance, left/right, that's all good now. Now it's purely about doing the work, getting the hard yards in, getting the power up, getting the weight down, the same story as always in terms of getting back to form. That's a big relief. This first period from Coppi e Bartali until now I've seen a really good progression in terms of the response from my body. I'm pretty happy now.” 

“I feel as if my body is responding differently to how it was last year. I've overcome a lot of hurdles. I've got nothing really holding me back now. I can get fully engrossed in the training side of things now. That's a side that I'm familiar with, I've been doing that for years. That's the side that I'm actually looking forward to now these next few months, seeing where I can get to.” 

Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech) descends from the snow-covered Italian Alps

(Image credit: SprintCyclingAgency©2022)

Fresher for the summer and the privilege of being at 100%

Froome will have to fight for his place in the eight-rider Israel-Premier Tech Tour de France team even if he has won the Tour four times. 

The line-up will probably include Jakob Fuglsang, Michael Woods, sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo and some key support riders. Israel-Premier Tech also has to think about avoiding relegation from the WorldTour in 2023 and so scoring points after the Tour will also form part of the decision-making process regarding the team. 

As upbeat as ever, Froome is hoping his delayed start to the 2022 season will leave him stronger and fresher into and beyond the summer.   

 “I'm definitely taking a bigger picture approach to the season. I'm looking to have a very active summer. Keep racing late into this year. It has been a slow start but I like the way things are heading now,” he says. 

“Thinking back to earlier years in my career, when I've been flying in February or March, I have struggled to hold onto it past the Tour de France. Whereas taking a slower approach now, hopefully I'll be able to hold onto that level until the end of the season.”

Froome turns 37 on May 20. His 2019 crash and the complex injuries he suffered derailed his Grand Tour career and perhaps stopped him taking a record-equalling fifth Tour de France victory. Last October Froome told Cyclingnews how his injuries and suffering had given him a broader perspective about his life and his career, making him more grateful for the success of his peak years with Team Sky. 

He now sees that part of his career, between his breakthrough win at the 2011 Vuelta a Espana and 2018 when he won the Giro d’Italia, finished third at the Tour de France  as a privileged spell of success.  

“Being away from it all after the crash, I've had time to reflect on that. I realise I was really fortunate to have those opportunities,” he explains.

“In the moment of victory there's a lot of buzz about it but you don't fully appreciate it. Now looking from the other side, I know how difficult it is to get everything 100% right, to be in the mindset and physical position to fight for the victory. To be at 100% is not normal. It really is a privilege.The goal is to try to get back to that kind of level.” 

Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech)

(Image credit: SprintCyclingAgency©2022)

Dropping his shield and sharing the journey of his final years

Froome’s gradual recovery from his crash injuries and his struggle to return to 100% fitness has been a difficult and bumpy road to take. His own determination and optimism about a successful return has often left him open to criticism. His body still carries the scar of his injuries and he multiple surgeries he needed afterwards but he also has a thicker skin to help protect him from social media haters and critics.        

“You can never keep everyone happy (laughs). If people have expectations, they'll always judge you on your last performance, not what you achieved during your career,” he says. 

“I never fully took on board the perception out there; what people said, what the media said and what was on social media. I tried to shield myself as much as possible in that bubble, not let it affect me as I prepared for the next event.

Froome may not be as successful as he was at the height of his career but he appears more open and available. He has dropped his shield. 

“People said they didn’t know me because I shielded myself, so I've made more of an effort to be more open and show who I am as a person,” he says. 

“I interact more on social media now and even do videos on Youtube. I've enjoyed that process too. Now I’m mature enough to recognise what to listen to and what not to listen to. I’m happy doing my own thing and sharing the journey I'm on now.”   

Froome may never return to his Tour de France winning level or the glory days of 100% fitness and focus he enjoyed at Team Sky.  At 37, his career may not have long to run and his body might not allow to compete at a professional level. However he will decide when and how he quits, not public opinion or criticism on social media.       

“That's not for me. It doesn’t feature in the planning of my career,” indicating he is far from done even if his dream scenario of riding the Tour de France does not come true.  

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