Froome has not raced since fracturing his femur, hip, elbow, sternum, and verterbrae in a crash at the Critrérium du Dauphiné last June. In November, he pencilled in February 2020 as his return date but his recovery has since been thrown into doubt, not least when he reportedly left a December training camp early, with a Team Ineos director saying: "He is not well."
However, Froome has recently been on a training camp in Gran Canaria, and has posted several of his rides to Strava. With the clear objective of the Tour de France, which starts in late June, Froome is in a race against time to reach the level required to win what would be a record-equalling fifth title.
On Tuesday, Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport linked Froome with a return at the seven-stage UAE Tour, which runs from February 23-29. La Gazzetta is owned by RCS, the same company that runs the UAE Tour.
Contacted by Cyclingnews, Team Ineos indicated it was a possibility but insisted nothing had yet been decided.
Froome underwent surgery in early December to remove the metalwork that had been inserted to stabilise his hip and elbow fractures. Before that, he was still struggling to walk, but now he is back training properly again.
"I’ve been given all the green lights now to get back on the bike, and I’m just making that transition now from the rehab phase back into normal training again," Froome said in a recent video interview from Team Ineos.
"I’m fully conscious that these next few months are going to be pretty tough. There’s going to be a lot of hard work, and I’ve got a lot of ground to make up and to get back to where I was. But I’ve had amazing support to this point, which has got me here, and now I can just really get stuck into the training and really get the miles in on the bike to try and build up that strength again."
Froome is determined to make it back to his best to challenge for a Tour de France title that would put him level with Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil, and Miguel Indurain.
While Richard Carapaz will lead Ineos at the Giro d'Italia, Froome may find himself down the team pecking order, with Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas, the winners of the past two Tours, set to lead the line.
"The only appointment I’ve set myself is Tour de France, and until then every week I’m just going to keep chipping away, keep trying to make the most of every camp, every race, building up to July and hope that come that start line in Nice in July, I’ll be ready to go," Froome said.