Chris Froome insists the passion still burns to win, and is taking inspiration from riders like Geraint Thomas and Vincenzo Nibali as he prepares for the 2023 season.
Speaking to the Czech website RoadCycling.cz on a recent visit to Prague, the four-time Tour de France winner who is already mapping out his 2023 season with Israel Premier Tech insists he’s not done yet.
“Fighting the young guns is getting harder and harder. But I still have a lot of motivation and feel that I can still achieve something,” Froome told RoadCycling.cz. “I haven’t said the last word yet.
“It may not be enough to match the level of Pogačar or Vingegaard because the sport changes and so does the racing style,” Froome said. “My hope is to see how the older guys are doing, how Geraint Thomas was still third in the Tour, how Valverde and Nibali were still able to win races.”
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The 37-year-old Froome confirmed he will start his 2023 season at the Santos Tour Down Under, but admitted it’s frustrating to wait for the final decision on the team’s license.
Israel-Premier Tech looks likely to be relegated out of the WorldTour, but team owner Sylvan Adams told VeloNews he was considering legal action if the UCI follows through with its controversial relegation/promotion system against the backdrop of a world pandemic.
“It’s hard to say yet because we still don’t know if we’ll be a WorldTour team, which is annoying,” Froome said. “I try to plan and prepare for the best possible scenario that we get invited to the biggest races. And if it doesn’t work out, we’ll certainly find a plan B. I’ll certainly start the season in January in Australia at the Tour Down Under. I would prefer to prepare for the Tour de France.”
Other key excerpts in the wide-ranging interview include:
Recovering from his 2019 crash at the Dauphiné:
“This season was the first time since that big fall that I felt no pain or weakness from that fall. It was nice to go to the Tour and watch things improve. But at the end of the Tour, I caught COVID, which sapped my strength, and the season was basically over for me. I tried to start again in the Vuelta, but I felt terrible there.
“At the last Tour I was able to fight for a stage win on Alpe d’Huez, that’s a big improvement after breaking my leg in 2019. And maybe in this next season I will move even more.”
On his 2018 Giro-winning attack at Colle delle Finestre:
“If I had to choose the best day on the bike in my career, it probably wouldn’t be any at the Tour de France, but this one at the Giro d’Italia. Because I went into this stage with the mindset that it was all or nothing, that I had to give it my all, take a risk and see what happens.
“I feel like it might have changed the racing a bit. Now we see a lot of guys attacking already far in front of the goal. But on the Grand Tour, the point of attack is not always this far. So yeah, this is probably the win I’ll remember the most after my career.”
On his cycling heroes:
“I had a few role models growing up. But I think it was a different era. And when I learned the doping truth, I stopped having role models and tried to do things my way. Focusing on racing to the best of my ability. I think it’s an unfortunate part of cycling history, but it will forever be a part of it. So I chose not to have patterns from that part of history.
“It’s a bit of a strange feeling when a 20-year-old boy is racing with me, we’re riding somewhere in the middle of the peloton, and he tells me: ‘You’re my idol’ … At the same time, for example, he attacks and I have to pedal to keep up with him. But it’s nice to see that you can influence someone.”
On race radios and headsets:
“I think it would be safer to race without them. Now every sports director has a lot of information and pours it on you, you know everything when there is a bridge or a corner. And that’s to make you go faster. Just to be ahead no matter what’s going on behind you.
“The last hundred kilometers is always a huge struggle, and actually mostly for nothing, while causing crashes. It would be quieter and safer without radios.
“Or on the other hand: Let’s open those radio channels to the fans. Cycling will be like Formula 1. This would be a huge benefit to our sport, people would tune in to the radio and listen to what is happening in the peloton. That would be fantastic.”