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Chris Froome: ‘I’ve still got a lot of work to do’

Chris Froome says he has lots of training, rehab, and heat acclimatizing to do as he prepares for the Tour de France.

Newsflash: Chris Froome is not yet ready to win the Tour de France.

In fact, Froome has plenty of training, racing, and even some heat acclimatization work in his near future as he prepares for July.

That’s the messaging coming out of Froome these days. On Wednesday, Froome’s Israel Start-Up Nation team released a 10-minute video featuring the four-time Tour de France winner, and in the video Froome discusses his current condition during his training camp on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

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“Just finished up a big 90-minute effort from sea level up to 2,200 meters, up above the clouds, ” Froome said during one scene in the video. “It’s pretty beautiful but it’s clear I’ve still got a lot of work to do still.”

Froome heads to the Volta a Catalunya this coming week for his next racing test, and he will do so after completing the big training bloc at high altitude.

The video is comprised of multiple interviews with Froome, and he addresses a handful of topics, from the dismal weather on Tenerife (“I’ve never been up here this early in the year and, surprise surprise, the weather is hit-and-miss at the moment) to the team’s dismal accommodations due to the COVID-19 pandemic (“There’s no electricity up here and everything is being run off of solar. It’s definitely a bit cooler than in the hotel — not as warm and comfortable as the hotel normally is.”)

You can watch the video below:

The video also contains footage of Froome during the recent UAE Tour. At that race, which marked Froome’s first competition of 2021, he finished 47th on GC and was never in contention to win.

Froome addressed his disappointing showing at UAE Tour, saying that the fast and furious racing — as well as the intense heat — caught him off guard this early in the season.

“Racing over in the UAE felt like a bit of a shock to the system a few weeks ago. It’s great to be racing and putting a number on the back — stage 1 right of the blocks was straight into crosswinds. It was, like, ‘Woah, OK, right back to racing,'” Froome said. “I felt for the first time I really battled with the heat. Every year I tend to back to South Africa for the winter and have generally a warm climate out there. I found this year going straight to UAE from California, I really felt the heat for the first time. That’s strange as I’m normally a fan of heat. It’s definitely going to have to be a focus of mine these next few months, getting acclimatized to those conditions before summer comes around.”

Froome said the speed and aggression in these early-season races have also caught him off guard. He said that the top riders are, in his eyes, already nearing Tour de France-level form in March, which is different from how he has traditionally handled his season.

“Judging by the races it certainly seems as if everyone is in form pretty early. These early-season races aren’t what they used to be,” Froome said. “Typically, people would be getting into the racing season early on and using that build-up for the bigger races,” Froome said. “Now, people are hitting the ground running. At those races, the level is at the highest level that I’d imagine for the Tour de France. So we’re seeing now that races are at a much higher level and a testament to that is that there are people up here at altitude getting ready.”

Froome’s altitude training camp comes after he completed a months-long rehabilitation at the Red Bull center in Southern California. For those months Froome worked on strength training and rehabilitation work to address lingering injuries from his horrific crash during the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné, where he suffered multiple broken bones and underwent surgeries to repair his hip and elbow.

Froome said that this rehabilitation work is something he will likely continue to do for the remainder of his pro cycling career. Froome turns 35 this year and is one Tour de France victory shy of joining the list of all-time winners Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil, and Miguel Indurain.

“I imagine, for me, the next few months I’m going to be making a lot of tweaks. I’m continuing with a lot of strength work off the bike,” Froome said. “And just sort of making adjustments as I go. I imagine I’m going to have to keep doing this throughout the course of my career — the strength work. I’m going to have to keep working on these imbalances and keep making tweaks as I go along. Certainly in cycling now, off-the-bike work is becoming more important, not just for people coming back from injuries. That’s something I’m going to have to keep working on. The biggest goal of this year is to be ready for July and be ready for the Tour de France, and hopefully be back to my old self again.”