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Tour de France

Tour de France: Chris Froome and Israel Premier Tech racing for redemption

The squad is hoping to earn stage wins from the likes of Michael Woods, Jakob Fuglsang and Simon Clarke.

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COPENHAGEN (VN) — Chris Froome and Israel Premier Tech will be hoping for a turn of fortunes during the 2022 Tour de France.

The four-time winner is back for his second Tour start since his devastating crash in 2019, and he’s hoping to be able to play a factor in this year’s race.

Behind Froome, the team’s engine room will be driven by Michael Woods, Jakob Fulgsang, and the likes of Simon Clarke. All four will have freedom to chase stage wins across the entire breath of the course.

“Our main objective is to go for a stage win,” said team manager Kjell Carlström. “I believe we have the strongest team we’ve ever had in a grand tour. We have been able to be a little bit better each year.”

The Israeli-backed team is back for its third Tour. So far, the team’s come close but has never won a stage in the Tour.

This year, the squad is determined to change that.

“We have built some good momentum in the past month,” Woods said. “I am feeling really good. I am about as fit as I was last year, but less stressed. Last year, I was going to do GC ‘light,’ but those dreams ended on the first day with a crash.

“This year I have no GC ambitions, and achieve our team goal that is to win a stage,” Woods said. “Every year I’ve had crashes, so the big goal is to stay upright and to focus everything on winning a stage.”

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Israel Premier Tech is also on the ropes in terms in UCI points that will in part help to determine the allotment of WorldTour racing licenses going into 2023.

The team is languishing near the bottom of the WorldTour team rankings and will be counting on a strong Tour to change the dynamic.

This month, however, the focus is on the Tour.

“We want to win a historic stage at the Tour de France, and win it for Israel,” team owner Sylvan Adams said. “That is our main objective.”

Illness and infections have dogged the team all season long, and two riders tapped to race the Tour — Daryl Impey and Omer Goldstein — were both removed from the roster after COVID issues.

The team had time to replace the riders ahead of Friday’s time trial, but it marks another setback for the team.

Fuglsang revealed that he returned what he called a false positive, and he later clear four more health checks that showed no sign of COVID-19.

The squad is hoping to earn stage wins from the likes of Woods, Fuglsang and Simon Clarke.

“I am proud to be Danish, and I am proud to be racing in Denmark, and it gives extra motivation,” Fuglsang said. “Maybe these first stages in Denmark don’t favor us, but we hope to get through these first stages and we can get to France and see what happens. My main goal is to try to win a stage.

“I am not going to ride myself out of GC on purpose, but I am not going to waste too much energy fighting to be up there,” Fuglsang said. “I will take it day by day. For now, it’s just to keep in the race, but the main goal is to win a stage.”

Chris Froome remains eternally optimistic

A wild card could be Froome, who recently claimed he is closing on his Tour-winning power numbers during pre-race tests.

“It was a huge accomplishment to come back from that nasty crash. It’s only been in the last few months in this build up for the Tour that I have finally felt issue-free,” Froome said. “Over the last 12 months I’ve overcome quite a few hurdles, but I feel this uninterrupted period from January to now, everything’s been on an upward trajectory.

“It’s a little bit of an unknown of where I am currently. I am looking forward to making the most any opportunities and seeing where the legs will carry me in the next three weeks.

“It’s a bit of an unknown of where I am currently, but I will give it 100 percent, and doing everything I can to help the team,” Froome said. “If that means going for a stage win at some point I hope I can rise to the occasion. I am going to take it one day at a time. The real test for me will come in the mountains.”

Chris Froome waves to the crowd in Copenhagen. (Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)