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Chris Froome is just over one week away from making his racing debut with Israel Start-Up Nation and confident that he’s back where he needs to be.
After months away from the bike following a devastating crash in June 2019, Froome suffered several false starts in a tricky 2020 season as he looked to get the wheels rolling again on his illustrious career.
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The grand tour star is now closing down on his first race in the colors of his new team at the UAE Tour later this month. After an intense final block of rehab at the Red Bull High Performance Center in California through the winter, Froome is convinced the kinks have finally been ironed out in the right femur he shattered some 20 months ago.
“I can finally say that I’m confident the rehab process is behind me now,” Froome told Red Bull. “[The right leg] is always going to be a weakness I’m going to have to work on until the end of my career. But in terms of the figures I’m seeing on the bike, I’ve got to the same if not even better left-right balance than I was prior to the crash. That’s extremely encouraging.”
Froome sat out his team’s winter training camp in Girona last month as he put the finishing touches on his recovery, spending up to eight hours a week at the high-tech Red Bull facility. The 35-year-old said that grinding out the work to strengthen his core, back and damaged leg has given him a solid chassis. Now it’s just the motor that needs fine-tuning.
“It’s been a way for me to get some really good quality training done over here,” Froome said Thursday. “I feel as if I’m in the best place possible coming into the season. I’ve still got a lot of work ahead of me in terms of focusing on race fitness but as a starting point this has put me in really good stead.”
Froome is now ready to dive into a highly-anticipated comeback season that will see him refining his racing legs at the UAE Tour and the Volta a Catalunya ahead of his Tour de France challenge at the head of ISN.
With four yellow jerseys in his closet, Froome stands one title away from matching the record of five Tour victories, a landmark that would indelibly ink him in cycling’s hall of fame. Froome will have turned 36 by the time the Tour rolls out of Brittany in June, but he believes age is no object to his lofty ambition.
“Being so close to the record, I can’t say I’m stopping at four and not at least give it my best shot to try and get number five,” he says. “I also think there are also a lot of preconceived notions, certainly in sport, that once you hit your 30s, you’re on a downward spiral.
“More and more now, we’re seeing cases where athletes are going longer due to better nutrition, better training, and looking after themselves properly,” he said. “I’d also like to be on the forefront of that and proving it can be done into your late 30s.”