Chris Froome has acknowledged that he is not certain of his place in the Israel-Premier Tech squad for the Tour de France. The four-time Tour winner is currently in action at the Critérium du Dauphiné, where he was more than three minutes off the pace in the stage 4 time trial.
“No, I don't have any guarantees at all, for anything,” Froome told L’Équipe (opens in new tab). “I think everything is up in the air, especially because of the points situation to stay in the WorldTour, which will probably lead to a change in strategy in the team. We will potentially have to aim for different races to score points, so I think there are still a lot of questions and uncertainties at the moment.”
Israel-Premier Tech currently lie in the relegation zone of the three-year rankings that will decide their WorldTour status for 2023, and general manager Kjell Carlström told Cyclingnews this week that the team was placing “a bit more attention on trying to put our best resources we can get the best results.” Sep Vanmarcke recently revealed that he will skip the Tour de France in order to ride a series of smaller one-day races in Belgium in a bid to score points to help Israel-Premier Tech’s situation.
Three years have now passed since Froome suffered severe injuries in a crash while reconnoitring the time trial on the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné. Froome completed both the 2020 Vuelta a España and 2021 Tour in the intervening period, but he was still hindered by his injuries at those races. He expressed optimism, however, about his current condition.
“Since the end of January, beginning of February, I felt that for the first time I had no more pain in my hip, no more stiffness caused by the fall – obviously I had a lot of soft muscle tissue that was affected where it surrounds metal plates and screws,” he said.
Froome delivered his best display since 2019 at the recent Mercan’Tour Classic Alpes-Maritimes, placing 11th in a race won by teammate Jakob Fulgsang, though he downplayed the idea that his performance came as a relief: “It was more a confirmation for me that I was doing a good job.”
Froome will face a stiffer test in the final weekend of the Dauphiné, as the race tackles successive mountain stages to Vaujany and Plateau de Salaison. “I don't have any specific expectations,” Froome said. “I just want to do as much as I can and see where I stand on the longer climbs, compared to the other guys too.”
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.