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Chris Froome continues slow build toward Tour de France

Michael Woods, Patrick Bevin bring top motors for Israel Start-Up Nation at the Tour de Romandie.

Chris Froome and his slow road to the Tour de France continues this week at the Tour de Romandie.

Froome joins Israel Start-Up Nation teammate Michael Woods in the six-stage race across Switzerland, starting Tuesday with an opening prologue.

Froome twice won Romandie, but this year, the 35-year-old will be riding in support of an on-form Woods, and continue building fitness for July.

“The goal for us here is a stage win and if we can get a good spot in the GC as well, it would be perfect,” said sport director Rik Verbrugghe. “We have some strong time trialists lining up so we aim for a good result in the prologue already. Woods has shown that he’s in really good shape at the moment and he will be our man for the general classification.”

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Woods is coming off a solid Ardennes campaign, capped by fifth Sunday at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and will be hunting for stages as well as a top-10 on GC. Patrick Bevin and Alex Dowsett will also try their luck against the clock.

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For Froome, the race marks another step in his preparation for the Tour de France.

Froome won Romandie in back-to-back editions in 2013 and 2014 when he was imposing his force as a top grand tour rider in the bunch. This week, a very different Froome will lower his expectations, and will be aiming to make small improvements for what insiders at the team still insist will be a run at a record-tying fifth yellow jersey.

Also read: Why I’m losing hope of Froome return

Some have already written off Froome, but last week at the Tour of the Alps, Froome rode into the breakaway in the queen’s stage that offered a glimpse that things are at least improving.

The breakaway attempt in the hard mountain stage was the first notable Froome performance since his career-threatening crash at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné.

After Romandie, Froome will hit altitude and then return to the Dauphiné ahead of a run at the Tour.