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LINTON, England (VN) — Chris Froome, now in Ineos’s burgundy colors, is aiming for a fifth Tour de France this summer with his new team.
Froome led the presentation yesterday of new owner and sponsor of the British WorldTour team, known as Sky for the last 10 years. He rode with the new team kit over the Yorkshire hills and to The Fountaine Inn, where Owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Great Britain’s richest person and Team Principal David Brailsford waited to unveil its project.
“Very much so,” Froome said when asked if he’s aiming for the Tour with Ineos on his back.
“I’m working hard now to target that fifth Tour de France. If I can do that with Ineos it would be incredible. It hasn’t been done for almost two decades – to reach those five wins.”
Froome won the Vuelta a España, the Giro d’Italia and four times the Tour de France. If he wins five, he would tie the record held by the greats including Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault.
He tried last year already, but after winning the 2017 Vuelta and the 2018 Giro, the Tour was too much. He rode to third place overall and helped team-mate Geraint Thomas to the 2018 title. He scoffed at the suggestion it was a losing year.
“Losing? I won the Giro, I did four grand tours in a row and I was third in the Tour. I wouldn’t exactly call that losing. I’m as motivated as ever to go for five,” Froome said.
“Every year we’ve gone into the grand tours with options to play. Last year I was extremely grateful ‘G’ was there to step up. I’d done four grand tours in a row, I’d just come off winning the Giro, I wasn’t at my best for the Tour de France, I was running on fumes.
“Thankfully Geraint was there to step up and take the win or it wouldn’t have been a Team Sky victory.”
Froome and Thomas train together, but they have not raced together since the Tour of Britain last summer. For 2019, the Tour will be their first time back in the same race roster.
“I think especially how the dynamic between me and ‘G’ works, we can ride off each other, we work well together, we’re open and honest with each other,” Froome said. “Hopefully in July it can be the same thing and hopefully one of us is standing on the top step come Paris.”
The Ineos deal brings even more money to the team, with the budget now around £40 million, according to sources. Amazingly, the deal came through in months after Sky’s December 2018 announcement that it would not continue beyond 2019.
“I wouldn’t say there was a sense of panic but everyone was concerned about their future naturally. That’s 30 riders and over 100 personnel and everyone is concerned about their futures and wondering where it would lead us,” Froome said.
“I can’t really remember [when I heard of it] but these things leak pretty quickly between riders. There were a few options on the table available. I think being one of the lead riders on the team I was probably privy to more information than some other people. I met Jim before the deal went through. I didn’t go on the ride with him because I think I was in Colombia at the time.
“I think this is why everyone is so excited now with Ineos so I’m pleased we can keep this together and we’ve got a British sponsor to do it.”
Froome is racing today in the Tour de Yorkshire, the team’s first official race.