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ARENBERG (VN) – Since his career-changing crash at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné, Chris Froome hasn’t had so much to smile about at the world’s biggest bike races.
However, crossing the line at Arenberg after stage 5 of the Tour de France, the British champion was beaming from ear to ear.
Plastered in brown dust and coughing, he heartily congratulated teammate Simon Clarke as the victor made his way to do his first interviews. It was clear how much this meant to the Briton.
“Absolutely incredible. A first Tour de France win for Israel-Premier Tech. That’s made our Tour de France,” he told VeloNews.
“We really wanted to get Simon into the breakaway, get him ahead of the action before we hit the cobbles, and I think we did just that. And he found himself in position, with good legs and a relatively decent gap coming into the final.
“The last 20-30km, the order was just keep Jakob safe, you go for it and that’s exactly what he did. Can’t fault his ride.”
Froome stays out of trouble on cobbles Froome has had good and bad days over the cobblestones of northern France in the Tour de France. In the rain in 2014, he abandoned mid-stage as defending champion, after falling again on an already-injured wrist.
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In 2018, he got through without problems. This will rank as a memorable experience of the pavé, both for him personally and Israel-Premier Tech.
“My day was a little quiet, uneventful compared to most guys, I think. I got shelled relatively early on, but I was part of that chase group pretty much all the way to the finish with a few of the GC guys – Ben O’Connor and Citroën-AG2R driving it most of the way.”
So it was just sitting in, staying out of trouble there which I was quite happy to do,” Froome said. “It was amazing to see how many guys were getting spat out of the peloton as it went further and further into the race.”
Dreams of a fifth Tour triumph Froome has said that he dreams of winning the Tour de France again, but it looks unlikely to be in 2022: the four-time winner finished over four minutes down on Clarke in the O’Connor group. He has indicated the mountains will be the real test of his form.
He will hope to take a stage win. With Israel-Premier Tech ensconced in a fight for points and WorldTour survival given the relegation system, Clarke’s victory is especially valuable and will do no harm for morale and publicity.
“This is amazing for us. For such a young team to have pulled off a win on such a monumental stage like today,” the 37-year-old concluded for a squad that was founded in 2014 and joined the WorldTour in 2020.