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After a five-month absence from racing dating back to last October’s Coppa Agostoni, four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome returned to racing Tuesday with stage 1 of the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali.
The British rider finished 137th, almost 15 minutes down on stage winner Mauro Schmid, but after a long-standing knee injury over the winter, the 36-year-old was just content to be back in the saddle and putting a race number on his Israel-Premier Tech jersey.
“Yesterday was a bit of a shock to the system after five months of not racing,” he told the media ahead of stage 2 in Riccione, Italy.
“The stages here are very much like Ardennes races, with 2-3km climbs over and over again. So it’s tough racing but I think that this is a good way for me to start and hopefully for me to look ahead to the races coming up,” Froome added.
Stage 2 of the race ends with an uphill finish at Longiano. It’s only Froome’s second day of competitive cycling so expectations on the British rider’s chances are low at this point.
“Today is going to be very different. It’s an uphill finish with a very steep 1km uphill climb. It could be a great stage for someone like van der Poel,” Froome said. “He could go for the stage today. Guys with really punchy finishes. We’ll do our best to try and support our guys and have as many riders in the final as possible. I think I’m going to take it day by day and just see how things are going.”
Froome’s next competitive outing has yet to be confirmed, but he does have the Tour de Romandie, Criterium du Dauphine and the Tour de France on his current provisional calendar.