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Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation) had another rough day on stage 5 at the Critérium du Dauphiné, and he’s all but given up plans for making a run at a record-tying fifth yellow jersey at the Tour de France, set to start in just three weeks time.
“I’m not talking about winning the Tour de France in a few weeks’ time, that’s for sure,” Froome said before the start of the stage. “I’m very much focused on just returning back to my former level and taking one step at a time. I don’t go from this level to winning the Tour de France in a few weeks.”
Froome watched from some distance back as the peloton made it over the top of the final climb of stage 5. He had been dropped from the main bunch on the steep slopes of the Côte du Montrebut, with about 13 kilometers remaining.
And then his former teammate, Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), went on to take the stage win by just a handful of centimeters over sprint star Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious). Froome finished the stage some three minutes behind Thomas and is now in 61st place at 8:36 behind the race leader Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe).
After ceding more than two minutes in the individual time trial on stage 4, and with more climbing stages ahead, Froome’s outlook on racing was one of participation, not victory.
“Just to be here in the Dauphiné, walking properly and having no issues and being in the race is great progress already.”
Just two years ago, Froome was in the hospital, after crashing on his time trial bike just prior to the start of the 2019 edition of the race.
His road to recovery has not played out to his or his team’s plans, and he’s not seen the form in races that previously won him four Tours de France.
“I know that a year ago I was on a bike racing before I could even walk properly again,” Froome said before the start of stage 5.
Chris Froome being very clear this morning… 'I'm Not Talking About Winning The Tour' – 2021 Criterium Dauphine https://t.co/b348rHryY9
— Gregor Brown (@gregorbrown) June 3, 2021
Another pothole Froome has yet to encounter: He’s not yet been named to the Israel Start-Up Nation squad for the Tour.
“His participation in the Tour de France is not a given,” Israel Start-Up Nation sport director Rik Verbrugghe told Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure.
Froome has three more stages to prove to himself and to his team that he’s worthy of a start at the Tour, even if he’s already admitted that a fifth Tour win is not within his grasp.