Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation) came into the Tour de Romandie with question marks hanging over him and with the hope of seeing signs he’s on his way back to the level that won him the Tour de France four times. After finishing the race in 96th place on Sunday, there were no real answers but he retains that hope as he builds towards this year’s Tour.
Froome placed 109th out of 120 starters in the final-day 16km time trial in Fribourg, finishing 3:23 down on the winning time of Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck-QuickStep).
However, despite all the intrigue into his ongoing recovery from the career-threatening leg break he suffered in 2019, there was mitigation for his subdued performances in the form of illness.
Speaking to CyclingPro in Fribourg, Froome suffered a coughing fit mid-interview, which he attributed to the miserable conditions and near-constant rain since the start of the week.
“It’s been a tough week of racing. The weather has been pretty rough and for me personally I’m starting to feel a little chesty these last few days,” Froome said.
“Today was just about finishing the race off and looking ahead.”
As for the week as a whole, Froome had little impact on proceedings, but Israel Start-Up Nation did enjoy the spotlight, with Michael Woods winning stage 4, even if he did concede the overall lead in the time trial.
“It’s been a good block of racing just to get the intensity in the legs,” Froome said. “It’s amazing to have the stage win yesterday with Woodsy. It’s been good fun racing with him this week.”
The Tour de Romandie was Froome’s fourth stage race of the season, following the UAE Tour, Volta a Catalunya, and Tour of the Alps. He has finished all four but has largely been dropped whenever the racing has intensified, and he himself has admitted that progress is slower than hoped for.
His former teammate, Geraint Thomas, sealed the overall title, more than an hour in advance, but Froome is not losing focus. Having now done 10 race days in the past two weeks, he’ll take a rest and do another altitude camp before looking ahead to the Critérium du Dauphiné. By that point, there really will be nowhere to hide so close to the Tour de France.
“I’m glad got this racing in,” said Froome. “There’s still got a lot of work to do. I’m going to be going up to altitude after this then hopefully onto the Dauphiné.
“I’m just hoping to progress, and obviously looking to get back to my former level. I can’t say when that’s going to be. It’s a process, it’s a long process. I’m going to keep working as hard as I can and hopefully get there."
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