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Chris Froome may have been used to life at the front of the peloton, but, for now, he’s now having to live life mid-pack.
The grand tour great spoke in his latest video about life at the lower end of the results sheet and the struggle of returning to racing as he rebuilds from his career-threatening injury.
“I’ve got to do the hard yards, do the suffering,” Froome said on his YouTube channel. “It’s not fun in the meantime, it’s tough getting kicked every time I’m trying to be up there, but I’ve got to have hope in the process and the training and believe that all that will put me in the right direction for the big races later in the year.”
Froome spoke shortly after last month’s Volta a Catalunya, where he lost over eight minutes in the opening day and found himself distanced in many of the race’s hilly stages.
Froome finished 81st overall having worked for Israel Start-Up Nation teammates Michael Woods and Daryl Impey through the Spanish race. He acknowledged that he felt like he was “pedaling squares” through his disaster opening stage but added that the individual time trial stage, where he finished just over two minutes down, gave him some glimmers of confidence.
“I’m just going to keep on focusing on that process of improving, of chipping away and getting better,” he said. “I think this race in Catalunya will be part of that process.”
Froome is working toward a Tour de France bid with his new Israeli team this summer, and has less than three months to put the finishing touches on his preparations. He said that regaining race fitness was the final hurdle ahead of his challenge for a record-equalling fifth yellow jersey.
“Catalunya was a great way to get the intensity in the legs, you can train all you want but being in a peloton racing full gas every day – there’s no substitute for that,” he said. “It’s great to get that in the legs but I feel I’ve got a lot more work to do … I’m just missing race fitness. I’ve got to put in the hard miles now, put in the work, and get the weight down.”
The Israel Start-Up Nation captain now heads to Tenerife for a spell at altitude before racing Tour of the Alps later this month. From there, all roads lead to the Tour, with tune-up races at the Tour de Romandie and Critérium du Dauphiné. He remained bullish about his prospect for the summer.
“From the outside, I can imagine people are writing me off but that’s fine, I know where I’ve come from,” he said. “I had to teach myself how to walk again and I need to keep things in perspective how far I’ve come this year and continue making progressions.”