Chris Froome has a message for his critics — the abuse hurled at him online only invigorates him to come back stronger.
On Thursday Froome released his latest video via the Israel Start-Up Nation YouTube page, and the video chronicles Froome’s off-the-bike training to address the muscle imbalances in his legs.
In the video, Froome also addresses the online criticism he’s gotten after his dismal finishes at early-season stage races.
“Obviously, over the last couple of races I’ve seen a lot of people on social media getting in touch, saying ‘listen, mate, hang up your bike, you’re never going to get back there,'” Froome said. “It makes me laugh. I don’t think people know how bad my injuries were and how far I’ve had to come just to get back to a professional level of racing. Those people clearly don’t know me as a person. I”m not going to just hang it up. I know I can get there, it’s just going to take time. I’m prepared to do the work. That’s what drives me and gets me out of bed in the morning. I love the sacrifice and the whole regime, the work side of being a pro cyclist. I’m not going to throw in the towel because I haven’t reached that point yet.”
Froome’s form has taken center stage throughout the springtime, as the four-time Tour de France champion has been off the pace in his early-season races. Froome finished 81st overall at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya back in March, and then was 93rd overall at the Tour of the Alps.
Last week Froome raced the Tour of Romandie, a race he won in 2013 and 2014. This year Froome finished 96th overall, 1 hour behind winner and former teammate Geraint Thomas.
Froome acknowledged his struggles at the early races. At Romandie, he said, he suffered through a chest infection through the back part of the race, and referenced a television interview after the final individual time trial in which he could not stop coughing.
“Romandie started off well and the last couple of days the weather turned really bad. I unfortunately started to feel my chest acting up,” Froome said. “For me, especially with my asthma, I find the cold is a trigger for me…. I was dealing with an infection there as well.”
Froome said the benefit of the early races was to make him feel more comfortable and at-ease in the peloton. At Romandie, he said, he felt more comfortable in the bunch than he did at Catalunya.
“Being in the wheels and in the bunch is beginning to feel a lot easier now compared to a couple of months ago at Catalunya,” he said. “I felt completely out of my depth there. Here, I’m feeling the progression and better on the bike. I’m going to keep working to put in the hard hours.”
Froome is slated to lead Israel Start-Up Nation at the upcoming Tour de France, and his dismal results in the early-season races are a sign that the four-time Tour champ has not returned to his world-beating form from years past. Froome famously crashed during the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné and suffered a multitude of injuries including a fractured right femur that required surgery and long-term recovery. He’s been recovering and strengthening his body since then, and earlier this year spend months in Southern California addressing muscle imbalances that resulted from the crash.
The latest video chronicles Froome’s visit to a laboratory for Isokinetic testing on his muscles. In the video Froome performs multiple strength tests to challenge his muscle groups, and the results show that lingering imbalances still exist between his injured right side and his left.
Froome said his imbalance between his left and right quadriceps was still 10 percent off of normal — yet that represented an improvement.
“That’s a big improvement,” Froome said. “Hamstrings, I still have a fair bit of work to do there. You can see there’s still a deficit. Right hamstring, I’ve got to definitely put a bit of work into that in the next month or so.”
The next few weeks will see Froome travel back to Tenerife for an altitude training camp atop the volcano, where he plans to lose weight. Froome said he’s carrying extra muscle mass at the moment as a byproduct of his cross-training worksouts. He also plans to adjust his diet to lose fat.
Froome said he hopes to be ready for the races ahead, and that he’s enjoying the process. Those who have criticized him, he said, only fuel him to push himself harder to come back.
“More of those message that come my way, the more it will spur me to do more,” he said.