Many may have expressed doubts about Chris Froome’s chances of lining up in the Tour de France later this month, but the Briton is confident that he can show enough form during this week’s Critérium du Dauphiné to convince Team Ineos’ management to select him for cycling’s marquee event.
“I’ve obviously only had a handful of days of racing in over a year, so I’m still finding the race rhythm, but I’m feeling better and better as I do more days of racing and I’m still optimistic about the Tour,” Froome said, having produced what was his best performance since his return to racing at the Route d’Occitanie just 13 days ago.
“I think my preparation for the Tour de France is good. Obviously, I’m just happy to be racing again and back in the Dauphiné. This was the race last year where I had the big crash. After that in itself, it’s incredible to be back in the peloton again. I’m really enjoying being back racing,” said Froome, as thunder rumbled around the Col de Porte summit finish of stage 2 on Thursday.
“Everyone’s light on race days,” he continued, “but I’ve got six months less than everyone else in that respect having been out for the second half of the season last year. I’m getting better and better as the races pass and I can already feel a big improvement through Occitanie, the Tour de l’Ain and now the Dauphiné. Every day is a test, every day is about pushing the condition and I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made so far. It’s been really encouraging.”
Froome finished at the Col de Porte in 49th place, eight-and-a-half minutes behind stage winner Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), but had been in the vanguard of the front group until 5km from home, when he eased off.
“I think today was a step in the right direction as far as the Tour goes,” he restated.
“Being at the pointy end of the race today, even though I wasn’t able to do a huge amount for the guys, was good and it all adds to the preparation and intensity needed for the Tour.”
Queried if he felt he could have asked any more of himself since his return to racing after a 14-month lay-off, Froome responded with a very firm “no.” He added: “I wouldn’t expect any more from myself at the moment given where I’ve come from. I’m hugely grateful and think I can take a lot of confidence from that. We’ll see where we are in a week’s time.”
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