Tom Dumoulin has warned Chris Froome of the risks of leaving Team Ineos in the pursuit of total Grand Tour team leadership, suggesting that a mid-season transfer would take up valuable energy and focus.
Cyclingnews reported in mid-May that Froome was in discussions over a possible mid-season transfer so he could target a fifth victory at the Tour de France as sole team leader.
Froome has not yet secured a contract extension with Team Ineos beyond 2020 and is determined to target a fifth Tour victory in the final years of his career despite the terrible injuries he suffered a year ago in a crash at the Criterium du Dauphine. However, with last year’s winner Egan Bernal stating that he will not sacrifice his chances for those of a teammate and Geraint Thomas also given a leadership role, Froome knows he may have to leave Team Ineos to secure leadership and a salary that matches.
Froome does not seem concerned by the idea of a divorce from Team Ineos but Dumoulin warned him against giving up the strength and Grand Tour ability of a proven Tour-winning team.
"It made me think about my own troubles,” Dumoulin sad of Froome's situation, in an interview with Het Laatste Nieuws, recalling the emotions of negotiating his early exit from Team Sunweb so he could move to Jumbo-Visma.
"That's wasn't fun. I don't know if I should believe the messages, but if he wants to switch during the season, it will take energy," Dumoulin warned.
Cyclingnews understands that two teams have approached Froome with interest in either a mid-season or end-of-year transfer, with Israel Start-Up nation considered the most likely candidate as it prepares for its Tour de France debut in September.
If a mid-season transfer did go ahead, it would need agreement from all the parties concerned and the UCI, but it would give the British rider complete leadership at the Tour.
Dumoulin suggested he feels better sharing the responsibility of leadership.
"I have been very different since last year," says Dumoulin, exactly a year after he last raced due to the effect of a crash and a knee tendon injury he suffered early in the Giro d'Italia.
"Now I'm not alone anymore. We will soon be racing for who is in the best position. If Steven Kruijswijk is the best in the team, Tom Dumoulin will ride for Steven and then Primož Roglič will ride for Steven. If Primož is the best, the team rides for him. If it turns out that I am the best, I ride for myself. That means you are a very strong team."
Dumoulin suggested Froome could be in the same situation if he stayed at Team Ineos, acknowledging that the road ultimately reveal who is the strongest rider and so team leader.
"I can't speak for Froome. He must start from his own strength, which is possible with every team. In the last ten kilometres of a climb, it's everyone for themselves. No matter which team he rides for, we'll have to beat him too," Dumoulin said.
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