Israel Start-Up Nation team co-owner Sylvan Adams has said that he wasn't surprised or disappointed that Chris Froome – who will join the team in 2021 – wasn't selected for the Tour de France by his current team, Ineos Grenadiers.
Four-time Tour winner Froome has been making his way back from career-threatening injuries sustained at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné and had hoped to make his Grand Tour return at the this Tour de France.
He and 2018 Tour winner Geraint Thomas were both left out of the squad after under-par showings at this year's Critérium du Dauphiné.
"I was not surprised and I was not disappointed," Adams said during Israel Start-Up Nation's pre-Tour de France press conference on Wednesday.
"I wasn't surprised because we're in very close communication with Chris. He had a very bad injury last year at the Dauphiné, a very serious injury. He's well on his way back, but in cycling if you're missing the last one or two per cent, it's the difference between being a champion and not quite having the fitness to challenge for the victory."
The team confirmed Froome's move to Israel Start-Up Nation, which had been rumoured since May, in early July. Since the season restarted later that month, Froome has finished 37th at La Route d'Occitanie, 41st at the Tour de l'Ain, and 71st at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
He'll target the Vuelta a España – his final Grand Tour after 11 years with Ineos – in late October.
"I'm not surprised that he needs a bit more time," Adams said. "As I said, his injuries were quite severe. His team Ineos has decided to race him at the Vuelta to give him a few more weeks of recuperation and to get that race sharpness to go for his eighth Grand Tour victory, putting him within three Grand Tours of the great Eddy Merckx.
"I can't say I was disappointed. I think it was the right move – he had discussions with his team, but Chris is missing just a little bit right now.
"Hopefully he'll show his true colours in the Vuelta and even more so as we make history when he wins his record-tying fifth – and thereafter a record-breaking sixth Tour de France, and as he makes an additional assault on that all-time record of 11 Grand Tours."
For the 2020 Tour, however, Israel Start-Up Nation will be led by Dan Martin and André Greipel as the team targets stage victories. In Nice on Saturday, they will become the first Israeli team to ride the Tour, while Guy Niv will be the first Israeli rider to compete at cycling's biggest race.
"I'm very proud to be here with our Israeli team," Adams said. "This is a first. The first Israeli team at the Tour de France. We'll have an Israeli rider at the Tour de France for the first time.
"We are on a mission. On one hand we're promoting cycling in Israel – it's our fastest-growing sport. Our other goal is to promote our country and show the real face of Israel, which is so misunderstood and portrayed in the media in a unidirectional light. We are beautiful, interesting, diverse, open, tolerant, democratic and most importantly, a very safe country."
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