Froome spent 10 years on a rim-braked Pinarello at Team Sky/Ineos but has switched to Factor Bikes and disc brakes at Israel Start-Up Nation.
In a video released in early February, the four-time Tour de France winner presented the features of his new main race bike, the Factor Ostro VAM, but did not seem impressed with using disc brakes, especially on long descents.
"Personally, I don't think the technology is quite where it needs to be yet for road cycling," Froome said in the video.
Froome will make his debut with Israel Start-Up Nation at the UAE Tour and was asked about disc brakes again in the final pre-race press conference. Despite a rim-brake being an option in the team, he confirmed he will stick with disc brakes. However his doubts about the technology remain.
“We do have the rim brake option available but that’s not an option we’re going to go with, we’re going to stick with disc brakes,” Froome confirmed.
“We’re happy with the performance of them but as I alluded to previously, I think there are a few tweaks that need to be made in terms of the technology.”
Froome’s video sparked controversy and stirred the debate on disc brakes and their use in the professional peloton. All the WorldTour teams except Ineos Grenadiers are using disc brakes this season.
Teams and riders are usually happy, at least publicly, to follow decisions taken by their bike sponsors, but Froome’s comments revealed some real concerns.
“I think some of my comments were probably taken out of context,” Froome said, clearly aware the controversy his comments had created.
“In general I’m extremely happy, especially with the Factor bike. I think everyone here who rides disc brakes recognises the downside to having disc brakes and the small niggles that come with that, especially when descending for long periods of time.
“It’s very different with disc brakes on the flat when you only need to brake for a few seconds every few kilometres. Certainly, when you’re dragging your brakes on descents for long periods of time, everyone knows the issues you get there.”
Froome returns to racing after spending three months in California where he combined warm-weather training with extra rehabilitation work at the Red Bull Athlete Performance Center.
He suffered a double-femur fracture, multiple other fractures and a collapsed lung when a gust of wind blew him into a wall during a reconnaissance ride of the time trial stage of the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné. He returned to racing at last year’s UAE Tour but was not selected for the Ineos Tour de France team and had a domestique role at the Vuelta a España due to his injuries affecting his performance.
“We’ve hopefully addressed a lot of the weaknesses I was dealing with last year and hopefully this will be the start of a fresh campaign toward the Tour de France this year,” Froome said, playing down his chances at the UAE Tour.
“The rehab is more complete than last year but this is the first race for me. I’m here to get into the racing, I’m not here with designs for the overall. We’ve got Ben Hermans here, who is a strong guy and I hope he will be up there to fight for overall victory.”
Froome is the standout leader at Israel Start-Up Nation after inking a significant three-year contract. He was absent from the team’s winter training camp but has spent time with team owner Sylvan Adams and his new teammates in the UAE.
Froome appears fully aware that Israel Start-Up Nation is a very different team to Ineos Grenadiers.
“Ineos has been a team that dominated Grand Tours for the last decade. Israel Start-Up Nation is starting a campaign now to focus on the Grand Tours. The teams are at different points in their evolution,” he suggested.
“For me it's a huge motivation and refreshing to be at the start of a project. We’re not starting from scratch but when it comes to the Grand Tours, we’ve got a blank piece of paper and a new project is an opportunity to share my experience from over the years and so be part of something new and exciting.”
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