Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation) revealed hints of his former strength Thursday when he hung with the lead group late in Thursday’s summit finale at the UAE Tour.
The four-time Tour de France winner, racing for the first time in his new team colors, hung on with the select group on the Jebel Jais climb until peeling off with about 4km to go.
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“I think that went all right today,” Froome said after the stage. “We saw a bit more action in the race than we did in previous stages. In the final there, I just tried to hang on in the bunch for as long as possible. And use it for preparation for upcoming races and test myself a little bit, as well as positioning Ben Hermans for the final.”
For Froome, the UAE Tour is all about the process of a return to top condition to try to make a run for a fifth yellow jersey later this summer.
Expectations were sky-high for Froome in his first race since the Vuelta a España last fall. After a winter-long training camp in California, Froome struggled in the early going so far at the UAE Tour. He ceded more than one minute in the time trial in stage 2, and got gapped early in the climbing stage Tuesday.
Froome isn’t panicking and insists the UAE Tour is a stepping stone for his 2021 campaign.
“For me personally, I am feeling better and better as the race goes on,” Froome said. “I definitely need more of these race stages, but step by step, hopefully, things are coming together for me.”
After UAE Tour, Froome is scheduled next to race the Volta a Catalunya, in Spain, in March.