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Chris Froome tells teammates he's staying at Ineos for Tour de France

Dylan Van Baarle and Chris Froome during their South African training camp
Dylan Van Baarle and Chris Froome during their South African training camp (Image credit: Twitter/Chris Froome)

Chris Froome has told his Ineos teammates that he's staying put and will ride the Tour de France with them this summer, according to Dylan van Baarle. 

Froome is out of contract at the end of the year and is weighing up a move away from Ineos, with Cyclingnews revealing the possibility of a rare mid-season switch to avoid a leadership battle with Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas. 

Israel Start-Up Nation have shown interest in signing the four-time Tour de France champion and a report in Tuttobici this week suggested he was close to agreeing a three-year deal starting in August.

Speaking to Dutch newspaper AD, Van Baarle, who is currently on a training camp with Froome and others on Ineos' Tour de France long list, revealed Froome had told them he wouldn't be leaving. 

"Of course we've talked about it, because it's in the news all the time. But, as far as I know, he's staying and wants to ride the Tour with Ineos," Van Baarle said.

"In the end, I don't know what's going on behind the scenes with him either, but that's what he says to us, so I assume he'll be there."

Van Baarle did not refer to Froome saying anything about his plans for 2021 and beyond - only the idea that he might terminate his contract early and line up against his old teammates at the Tour in late August.

"That would be strange," Van Baarle said. "And I don't think it will happen that he will go early."

Froome joined Team Ineos - then Team Sky - when it was launched in 2010 and has gone on to win seven Grand Tours for the British team. However, his future was thrown into doubt last June when he suffered career-threatening injuries at the Critérium du Dauphiné and was forced to miss the Tour, won by 22-year-old Bernal. 

Froome hadn't signed a new contract at that point and so found himself working his way back to full health and fitness, trying to prove he was still capable of winning a record-equalling fifth Tour title. 

Froome raced the UAE Tour in February but the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed his racing progress, although he claims to be back to full strength. 

While Froome has won four Tours and is aiming to make history, he sits no higher on the hierarchy than Bernal and Thomas, the winners of the past two Tours. All three have been "encouraged" to prepare to lead the line, with a decision to be taken further down the line. 

Bernal recently commented that he would not, if at full strength, sacrifice his own chances for his teammates.