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“It’s not planned that he will go the Tour, except if he passes through all of the stages he needs to,” Verbruggen told the British magazine. “If that happens, we will have a Chris who is competitive at the start of the Tour, but that’s not a guarantee.”
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Froome, 36, is coming off an irregular season after switching to Israel Start-Up Nation in 2021. Though he raced the Tour, Froome was never a factor across any major race this past season.
Froome confirmed to VeloNews at a team camp that he suffered from flare-up of bilharzia, something the team believed hampered his progress across the 2021 season. The four-time Tour winner continues to express optimism that he will be able to return to a competitive level following his devastating crash in 2019.
Speaking to VeloNews at a team camp earlier this month, Verbrugghe said the team is working to outline Froome’s racing calendar for 2022, and remained evasive about whether or not that included the Tour de France.
Verbrugghe’s comments to Cycling Weekly, however, suggest the team will not automatically bring Froome to the Tour if he is not in top shape.
“The thing is we need and want to see results from Chris next year,” he told the magazine. “It could be in a small race, but hopefully it’s in a bigger race; even better, the biggest race of them all. But even a small race would be a beginning, a step in the right direction.
“If it goes well, it’ll be a normal calendar before the Tour, but if it doesn’t go like this, we didn’t see the results we want to see, then he will go to a race program that is different, much lighter,” Verbrugghe told Cycling Weekly. “It depends on his training, comparing his numbers, and sometimes you can overestimate what he will do based on his numbers. Depending on his evolution, he can get better, more ambitious in races.”
Speaking to VeloNews earlier this month, Verbrugghe confirmed the team’s plans include more support and development among younger riders despite having such veteran riders as Froome and Jakob Fuglsang on its roster. Verbrugghe also said the team hopes to punch into the top-5 among the WorldTour team rankings for 2022.