In a new interview with The Guardian, Chris Froome has expanded on his reasons for leaving Ineos Grenadiers to join relatively inexperienced Israel Start-Up Nation.
“Ineos have been winning grand tours for years. This is something new, something fresh and just what I needed,” Froome told The Guardian. “I’ve never been part of a process of recruiting riders and staff, of planning. At Ineos, all these things were done for us. Now I’m part of that process.”
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Froome, who turns 36 in May, won seven grand tours during his time at Sky/Ineos, with four yellow jerseys, two editions of the Vuelta a España, and one Giro d’Italia. Froome vows he is fully recovered from his horrific crash in 2019 that nearly derailed his career.
“There is nothing hold me back from winning a fifth Tour,” he told the British paper. “It is going to be a huge ask but, with four titles, I’ve come so close to the record of five … I’d love to give it my best shot and win a fifth. A lot of it is mind over matter, so I hope the body will follow.”
Froome said despite his apparent age — Cadel Evans was the oldest modern Tour winner at 34 — he believes he can still win the Tour. He compared himself to Tom Brady, the American quarterback who won his seventh Super Bowl ring at 43 last month.
“I love drawing parallels with other sports, and seeing athletes going later and later into their careers,” Froome said. “That’s due to a host of reasons but mainly because of nutrition and physiology. Everything is evolving. We’re learning more and more about our bodies and I certainly believe it’s more to do with mindset in your late 30s.”
Despite optimism, his recent outings have been less than stellar. In Monday’s time trial, he was more than a minute behind 2020 Tour winner Tadej Pogačar in a 13km individual time trial. At last fall’s Vuelta a España, he was more than three hours behind winner Primož Roglič.
“I wouldn’t say humiliated. It was clear from the training data I wasn’t where I’d normally be if I was fighting for the win,” Froome said of the Vuelta. “It was frustrating and disappointing – but I could have a bit of perspective and remember that, if we rewind a year, I could barely walk.”
Froome remains confident he can be and will be a factor come July.