After finishing the Tour of the Alps on Friday Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation) heads to Switzerland for the Tour of Romandie as part of his build-up to the Tour de France, but the four-time winner admits that his selection for the Olympic Games in Tokyo is far from certain.
Froome made it into the break on Friday’s final stage at the Tour of the Alps but failed to shine in the overall standings, finishing 93rd in the general classification. So far this year he has competed in three stage races but hasn’t been able to make an impression on GC as he continues his long road back after a career-threatening crash at the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine.
During the Tour of the Alps, the four-time Tour de France winner admitted that his chances of making the Great Britain Olympic Games team for Tokyo lay in the balance. The British men’s team only has four spots for this year’s road race and Simon and Adam Yates, along with Hugh Carthy are leading the charge for spots. Froome, 35, won bronze medals in the time trials at both London and Rio Games in 2012 and 2016, respectively.
“I think everything depends on getting back to that former level,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport at the Tour of the Alps.
“In this condition, I can quite happily say that I wouldn’t deserve a spot [in Tokyo] but obviously I’m still hopeful that my condition improves before the Tour de France and therefore before the Olympics.”
Froome also spoke about how the COVID-19 pandemic hampered his return to racing and compounded his comeback. He left Ineos Grenadiers over the winter of 2020 and signed a lucrative five-year deal with Israel Start-Up Nation that will see him finish his career on the team but the 2018 Giro winner also sees himself remaining in the sport, and possibly the team, even when after hangs up his wheels.
“I think this was the foundation of the discussion when it came to joining Israel Start-Up Nation. It was a commitment to the end of my career and potentially even beyond that, to work on building a Grand Tour programme and the foundations of a team that can compete for victory at the Tour de France.
"Personally, I love the sport, I’d love to stay involved in the sport after my racing career. This would be an option for me, to continue with ISN. Obviously, when we get closer to that time, we’ll discuss it further but my focus is now on trying to get back to my former level and working hard to get to that point.”
Froome also admitted that he still needs more time to rediscover his top level. After the Tour of Romandie, a race he won twice in 2013 and 2014, he will return to Tenerife for another altitude camp before embarking on his final pre-Tour race at the Criterium du Dauphine. Despite the slow progress over the last year, Froome is sticking to his schedule and is adamant that he can return to the pointy end of races.
"I love doing what I’m doing. I love it even more when I’m in front and how it was in the years before my crash. Of course, I take a lot of joy from the victories but I still have a lot of passion, I still enjoy racing even though I’m finishing on the other side of the peloton at the moment. So no, it wouldn’t change my appetite to continue,” he said.
"I’m still training just as hard, I’m putting in the hours. I’m not seeing the same numbers in training as I did previously, but I’ve just got to trust in the process. I’ve got to trust that working hard will bear results eventually. Obviously, I had the big accident a couple of years ago and I still haven’t come back to my former level since then."
"And then we had the Covid time away from racing straight on the back of this period of trying to come back into professional cycling so for me it was over a year away from the highest level of racing and I think that time away from high-level racing compounded the effects of my injury.
"So it’s been a longer journey than I expected but I’m certainly hopeful that if I keep following the process, keep working hard, keep doing the altitude training camps, and putting in all the work that’s required, eventually things are going to click for me and I’m going to wake up feeling more like my old self again."
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