Just look at his performances since his horrific crash at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné. A bedraggled Froome rode into Madrid in the Vuelta a España in 98th place, more than three and a half hours in arrears. Another yellow jersey? No way.
There’s another way to look at Froome’s progress since his crash in June 2019. He’s fully recovered and is back to racing. And though he was far from the sharp end of the GC action, he did finish his first grand tour since 2018 stronger than he started. The trend is upward.
That’s how Israel Start-Up Nation owner Sylvan Adams prefers to interpret Froome and the quest for a record-tying fifth yellow jersey.
“We are all-in with Chris,” Adams told VeloNews. “We have every confidence in the world he will be ready in 2021.”
Of course, Adams has every reason to want to believe Froome is going to be a factor next season.
The ebullient owner of Israel’s first WorldTour team opened up his checkbook this summer to sign the four-time winner when he found out Froome was on the market after 11 seasons with Ineos Grenadiers. Froome’s salary has not been publicly revealed, but sources say the deal that will keep him as one of the highest-paid riders in the peloton.
There’s a lot of money on the line, as well as pressure to deliver.
Adams, who is personally underwriting much of the team’s multi-million-dollar budget from his personal fortune, wants to help Froome join the Tour’s elusive five-win club.
Like any businessman, however, he wants a return on his investment. He’s already helped bring the Giro d’Italia to Israel and deliver cycling’s first WorldTour Israeli-backed team to the Tour de France.
Now Adams is audacious enough to believe that the team can win the yellow jersey with Froome in 2021.
“We have a lot of pressure on us. Chris Froome has a lot of pressure on him,” Adams said. “We will be heavily criticized if Chris Froome doesn’t do well in next year’s Tour. Everyone will say, look at them, they took a washed-up former champion and they thought they could milk it.”
Did the team buy damaged goods? Adams says no.
Adams confirmed to VeloNews that the team had full access to Froome’s power files before signing him. Though Froome did not undergo a power test before signing the contract to move to Israel Start-Up Nation, the team’s coaching staff came away convinced that Froome can once again deliver Tour-winning performances having reviewed recent performance data.
“We’ve had extensive discussions with Chris,” Adams said. “We have his power files. He is an older rider, but he came to the sport late, and we believe in his future at the Tour.”
Whether Froome can return to the Tour next year to be a legitimate contender will be one of the top storylines in 2021.
By his admission, Froome said throughout the Vuelta he was far from his top form. But he also insisted he was improving as the stages ticked off, and vowed to keep working to return to form in time for the 2021 Tour in late June.
What’s already obvious is that there is a clear before and after for Israel Start-Up Nation with the imminent arrival of Froome.
Before Froome, the team was on a go-slow plan to build out its grand tour aspirations around veteran Dan Martin as well as developing some promising talent. With Froome, the future is now.
With Froome’s arrival, the team hit the acceleration pedal on its grand tour plans.
“We will have a world-class team to support Chris Froome in the Tour de France,” Adams said. “Everyone wants to be on our team. We are one of the few teams that did not cut salaries this season. There are a lot of disgruntled riders out there. We are recruiting a team around our grand tour aspirations.”
Since VeloNews spoke to Adams in September, the team signed a host of big-name talent including Michael Woods, Daryl Impey, Sep Vanmarcke, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Patrick Bevin, and Alessandro Di Marchi.
That kind of firepower should give Froome the support he needs on the road.
Adams says Froome will also have the backroom coaching and performance support to put him on par with the likes of super teams Ineos Grenadiers and Jumbo-Visma.
Adams, who called Froome the Lionel Messi of cycling, says the ambitions are nothing short of pushing Froome into the Tour’s five-win club and beyond.
“We are looking to tie history and then make history, with a fifth and sixth Tour victory,” Adams said. “We absolutely believe in Chris.”
Time will tell who’s right if Adams’ big bet paid off.