Chris Froome has added the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge to his calendar as he searches for a Tour de France ride next month.
Israel-Premier Tech sport director Rik Verbrugghe told Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure that there are just two slots left in the eight-man Tour team and Froome needs to prove himself to get one of them.
The four-time Tour de France champion, Froome is slated to start the Critérium du Dauphiné this weekend and the one-day Mont Ventoux race two days after it finishes.
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“It all depends on the Dauphiné and how he does for the rest in June. He will do the Mont Ventoux race after the Dauphiné,” Verbrugghe told La Dernière Heure.
“He is coming back strong, but the Dauphiné is going to show what he can really do at the highest level at the moment. In training, his data is moving in the right direction. But now we have to see how he does in a race. But the signs are good.”
Verbrugge confirmed to La Dernière Heure that Froome would be selected for the Tour de France if the team believes he could win a stage.
Froome has not taken a win at a race since he took the overall title at the 2019 Giro d’Italia along with a stage win on the Monte Zoncolan. He has been struggling to find the form that took him to seven grand tour victories ever since a career-threatening crash during a time trial recon at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné.
Froome returned to the Tour de France for the first time since that crash at last year’s race but finished well down in the standings over four hours behind the winner Tadej Pogačar.
Though he is far from his former best, Froome looks to have turned a bit of a corner recently and took his best result since the 2019 crash with 11th at the Mercan’Tour Classic, which was won by his teammate Jakob Fuglsang.
While Fuglsang’s performance at the Tour de Suisse later this month is the main target for Israel-Premier Tech, the team will be keeping a keen eye on Froome in France.
“Switzerland is our priority and, with Fuglsang, we are going for the podium or the overall victory. He will have the support of the team,” said Verbrugghe. “But we are also going to the Dauphiné with a Chris Froome who is getting better quickly. I’m impatient to see how he does in that race.”