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Chris Froome's Ineos departure won't change Tour de France status, says Knaven

Chris Froome back in action at the UAE Tour
Chris Froome at the UAE Tour (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Team Ineos directeur sportif Servais Knaven has said that Chris Froome’s role at the Tour de France will not be affected by his departure from the team at the end of this season.

Froome will join Israel Start-Up Nation in 2021 after eleven seasons at Team Sky/Ineos. He was previously reported to have been considering a mid-season transfer to guarantee sole team leadership at the Tour.

The Team Ineos roster for the rescheduled 2020 Tour will include Egan Bernal and 2018 winner Geraint Thomas, who both have designs on overall victory in Paris, but on Thursday, Froome reiterated his desire to win a record-equalling fifth title before leaving the team. Knaven said that Froome’s imminent departure will not alter his status.

“During the Tour there will be questions whether the fact that Chris is leaving will influence his status in the team, but I don't see any reason why his current position would be different now,” Knaven told NU.nl.

"We want to win the Tour. And if Chris is the best, he wins. The fact that he will leave us after this year really doesn't make any difference.

“I think it is especially important that there is clarity to the outside world. All questions about Chris' future have now been answered, so we don't have to talk about that anymore and we won't be distracted by it in the run-up to the Tour and during the race.”

Froome has raced just once – at the UAE Tour in February – since he sustained severe injuries in a crash at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné, but speculation about his future has been a constant in recent months. Knaven dismissed the idea that a mid-season transfer was ever a realistic proposition.

"We always had a bit of a laugh when we saw those stories in the media, I don't think that's ever been discussed internally,” Knaven said. "I don't think anyone would have wanted that either. 

“Chris is a fantastic rider and we are all very happy that we have worked with him, and that we are still working with him. We've been through quite a lot in ten years.”