Unlike many of the overall contenders in the five- day stage race, Froome is not targeting the rapidly approaching Giro d’Italia but is taking each race and each training block as gradual stepping stones back to his best form. His ultimate goal is a fifth victory at the Tour de France with new team Israel Start-Up Nation.
So far Froome’s results appear to indicate he is not on a trajectory that will mean he is competitive at this year’s Tour de France but he continues to shrug off other people’s criticism and doubts and is focussed on his path and goals.
“No, I don’t see any issues there. Maybe it’s a call for someone else to make, not for me personally,” he said during the Tour of the Alps pre-race press conference when asked about comments from Bradley Wiggins who had said Froome’s critics were treating him with a lack of respect after a long comeback from his terrible accident at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné.
“I feel good. I’m continuing to see progression, which is the main thing for me at the moment. I’ve just come down after another altitude block in Tenerife. My feelings are getting better and I’m looking forward to racing this week and seeing any progressions.”
Froome fractured his right femur in the crash in June 2019 and spent the winter in California doing extra gym work alongside his road riding to correct a difference in leg power. He finished 47th on his debut with Israel Start-Up Nation at the UAE Tour in February and 81st at the Volta a Catalunya, struggling to stay with the overall contenders on the key climbs.
He worked hard at the recent camp on Mount Teide and is expected to ride the Tour de Romandie in Switzerland next week before a further key camp, the Critérium du Dauphiné in early June and then the Tour de France. However he was again distanced on the opening stage of the Tour of the Alps, finishing in a chase group that came in over five-minutes down on stage winner Gianni Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers).
Froome last rode the Tour of the Alps before he went on to win the 2018 Giro d’Italia. A number of teams have sent their Giro d’Italia squads to race the Tour of the Alps as final build-up for the Corsa Rosa. Also racing are Nairo Quintana (Akrea-Samsic), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Jai Hindley (Team DSM), Simon Yates (Bike Exchange), Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) and 2019 winner Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers).
Dan Martin will lead Israel Start-Up Nation at the Giro d’Italia, with the team looking for stage victories this week. Indeed, Alessandro De Marchi was part of the break of the day during Monday’s opening stage.
“I certainly enjoy racing the Tour of the Alps, it’s a fantastic race with lots of climbing and hard stages,” Froome said.
“As I move forward towards bigger goals in the season it’s a great race to test myself and see exactly where I’m at.
“This race really works for the Giro contenders, for getting a stage race in the legs. It’s intense and exciting racing. It’s a good preparation race for the Giro.
“We have guys here focusing on the Giro, so we’ve got Dan and then Alessandro De Marchi, too, they’re guys who can fight to go in the breaks and make the racing exciting.”
“Outside of our team, it’ll be interesting to see where riders like Thibaut Pinot are before the Giro. For sure Yates is in great form, too, there’s a lot of riders here, so I don’t want to miss anyone out by saying this guy is the favourite. I think we can expect a really fast week of racing.”
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