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Chris Froome: I still dream of winning the Tour de France

Christopher Froome (Israel-Premier Tech) prior to the 36th Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali 2022
Christopher Froome (Israel-Premier Tech) prior to the 36th Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali 2022 (Image credit: Getty Images)

Chris Froome won’t win this year’s Tour de France, and he knows it. He probably won’t ever win the Tour de France again, and, deep down, he probably knows that too. But that doesn’t mean he’s ready to accept it.

“I’ve come back from an horrendous crash over the last three years, and that wasn’t the way I wanted to end my career,” Froome said in Israel-Premier Tech's pre-race press conference on Thursday, when asked why he was continuing to race after three years bereft of results in the wake of his career career-altering crash at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné.

"This team has given me an opportunity to get back to the pointy end of the sport, which, after the injuries I had, is the driving force for me, the biggest goal that gets me out of bed and onto the bike every day. It’s not winning the Tour de France right now, but I still dream about it, so I’m going to keep chasing that dream.”

A year ago, Froome returned to the Tour for the first time since that crash and rode anonymously to 133rd overall in Paris. Few past winners have struggled so obviously at the Tour. In the modern history of the race, perhaps only Greg LeMond’s difficult final two appearances bear comparison, but the American abandoned in both 1992 and 1994.

Froome, by contrast, simply viewed completing the course in the gruppetto as another phase in his rehabilitation. Now in the second season of a five-year contract with Israel-Premier Tech, he insisted that he had no intention of calling time on his career in the foreseeable future.

“Certainly, I have no plans on retiring just yet, especially with the continued progression I’ve seen this year,” he said. “That gives me a bit of hope for continuing forward. There’s no evidence that I’ve reached a plateau in terms of the progression I’ve made this year, so I’m just going to keep building on those good feelings and that momentum and see where it brings me.”

Although Froome abandoned the Critérium du Dauphiné through illness, he evinced optimism ahead of this Tour on the back of his 11th place finish at the Mercan'Tour Classic Alpes-Maritimes, his best result of the past three years.

“It’s only been on the last months, in this build-up to the Tour, that I’ve felt issue-free,” Froome said. “I haven’t had any niggles holding me back since January. I think over the last twelve months, I’ve overcome quite a few hurdles. Barring a bit of sickness at Dauphiné, I’ve had an uninterrupted period since January, and everything’s been on an upwards trajectory.”

Froome lines out at this Tour as part of an Israel Premier Tech squad that includes Jakob Fuglsang and Michael Woods. The team’s objective is to hunt stage victories rather than a high overall finish, and Froome expressed hope that he could be competitive once the road starts to climb.

“It’s a little bit of an unknown where I am currently, but you can rest assured I’ll be giving it 100%,” Froome said. “If that’s going for a stage win, then I’d like to rise to the occasion.”

At this point, the 37-year-old has seen just about everything the Tour has to offer, but the race retains the ability to dazzle even its most experienced participants.  

“I went to the teams briefing in the early afternoon and it’s my tenth one, so I’ve seen all the videos they show you about how things work, and that just felt like the other nine,” Froome said. “So I went to the team presentation and I thought that would be like the other nine. But yesterday, with the crowds, was just a whole new experience. It left me thinking that I shouldn’t for a second think I know what to expect.

“Every Tour is unique. Every race is unique. Every Tour tells its own story. It’s a huge privilege to be here.”

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Barry Ryan

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.