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It will be new team, new approach, same goals for Chris Froome in 2021.
Speaking for the first time since making the landmark move to Israel Start-Up Nation, the four-time Tour de France champion said that riding in new colors will blow fresh vigor to his legs after a long tenure with Team Sky / Ineos-Grenadiers.
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“At my age, at 35, coming back from a big injury, year after year with the same team it’s almost been copy and pasting every year, year on year,” Froome said. “Changing teams like this at this point in my career will give me so much more mental motivation and stimulation. It’s a whole new project, a new chapter. It feels quite rejuvenating for me.”
With four Tour wins on his palmarès, the 35-year-old is looking for an elusive fifth title to tie the record of greats Jacques Anquetil, Miguel Indurain, Eddy Merckx, and Bernard Hinault. With an open-ended contract in his pocket, Froome’s yellow jersey ambitions are now inextricably tied to the white and navy of Israel Start-Up Nation as he prepares to ride out his illustrious career in ISN colors.
Team co-owner Sylvan Adams has assembled a deep list of talent in preparation for sending Froome to the top. Though the team has acknowledged that binding together its pick n’mix cohort of 2021 may encounter some initial frustrations, Froome’s long-term deal means that the Tour ambitions of Adams and Co will stretch as long as the 35-year-old remains competitive.
“After the discussions with Sylvan we came to the conclusion that changing at this point of my career, especially after being with one team for 11 years, we agreed that joining ISN is a commitment I’m not going to make for a year or two,” Froome said in a video interview released Sunday. “This is a commitment until the end of my career and potentially even beyond that.”
Froome hinted that his mind had already flashed to the idea of a wider role with the Israeli squad after retirement. But there’s racing to do first, and that his trademark hunger for success has not yet been satiated.
“My goals haven’t changed, I want to get back to the top level,” he said. “I want to be fighting for victory at the Tour de France and other grand tours.”
Uncertainty continues to swirl around Froome’s form as he battles to recover from the long list of career-threatening injuries sustained over 18 months ago. Froome’s commitment to his rehab as the season draws closer means he will be continuing to iron out the kinks at his new base in California rather than joining the team at a forthcoming training camp in Girona.
“I’ve been able to put the hours in on the road [in California] but more importantly, I’ve been able to work at the Red Bull High-Performance Center,” Froome said. “I’ve been really working on addressing some of those imbalances and weaknesses I’ve had from the injury, and I feel really optimistic about the upcoming season.”
Froome’s initial plan to start his season at Vuelta a San Juan later this month looks in doubt as travel restrictions squeeze the brakes on international teams from racing the Argentine event. Instead, Froome’s debut may now instead be at the Volta ao Algarve, February 17.
“I’m really looking forward to getting the season underway now and hopefully this is going to be the start of a long, exciting, successful partnership,” he said.
Froome’s ride into retirement starts next month. As far as he’s concerned, that road will pass through the top step of the podium in Paris.