Chris Froome has cited "equipment issues" that have prevented him from perfoming at his best, while also insisting he will race the 2024 Tour de France, despite being left out of the Israel-Premier Tech line-up for this year’s race. Lack of clarity over the length of his current contract with the team, however, raises questions over whether he will still be in the peloton at all next season.
The four-time yellow jersey winner, aged 38, was missing from Israel-Premier Tech’s selection for the race, with the team targeting stage wins, its roster including Simon Clarke and Hugo Houle, both of whom won stages in its colours last year, and Michael Woods, overall winner of last week’s Route d’Occitanie.
While Froome’s ambitions of adding a fifth overall victory to emulate Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain are long gone, he had hoped to be selected for the race and according to GCN attributes his omission to problems with his health as well as his bike this year.
He told the broadcaster that issues with his bike set-up at recent races - something that Froome has been vocal about in recent years, particularly concerning his disc brakes - prevented him from demonstrating to his team that he was ready for the Tour de France.
“I’m obviously disappointed with the decision. The Tour de France holds an incredibly special place in my heart,” Froome said.
“Physically I was ready, but unfortunately I was unable to show my full ability at the races assigned to me due to equipment issues.
“I respect the team’s decision and will take some time before refocusing on objectives later in the season and returning to the Tour de France in 2024,” he added.
Froome, who won the Tour de France four times with Team Sky between 2013 and 2017, is one of just seven riders to have won all three of cycling’s Grand Tours.
In 2019, however, he was involved in a near-fatal crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné while undertaking a recce of the course on the morning of the individual time trial.
The following year, Ineos Grenadiers, as Team Sky had by now been renamed following its change of sponsorship, declined to renew his contract, leading to his move to his current team.
At the time, Froome still harboured dreams of clinching that record-equalling fifth yellow jersey, but has failed to recapture the form that brought him seven overall Grand Tour victories.
His third place finish behind Tom Pidcosk at Mont Ventoux on Stage 12 of last year’s Tour de France is his only top-10 placing in more than 150 race days since joining the Israeli outfit.
He signed for the team on a deal worth a rumoured €15 million ahead of the 2021 season, with the contract widely reported to be either open-ended, or lasting five years, the latter taking him through to the end of 2025.
More recently, there have been reports that the contract is of shorter duration, although when Froome was confirmed for Israel-Premier Tech’s roster for this year, team owner Sylvain Adams remained tight-lipped on the details.
VeloNews reported that in response to press reports in Italy that Froome’s contract would expire at the end of the 2022 season – a campaign that ended with the team being relegated from the WorldTour – the Canadian billionaire said: “I don’t know where they got that information.
“I prefer not to talk about any elements of Chris Froome’s contract. It’s confidential information. A lot has been written about this, and a lot of it is wrong.
“I have never spoken about his contract before. We have an understanding with Chris Froome that his last team will be Israel Start-Up Nation. Chris Froome will retire as a rider from our team. That was the understanding when he agreed to join our team.
While GCN says that Froome is under contract until the end of 2025, the website Procyclingstats, which keeps tabs on how long riders are under contract for – as an example, current Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard is shown as riding for Jumbo-Visma up to and including the 2027 season following his recent contract extension – currently shows him as riding for Israel-Premier Tech for this season, with no listing for 2024 and beyond.
Any hopes that Froome might therefore have of racing at next year’s Tour de France, which begins in Florence and ends in Nice with the traditional finish in Paris missing as the French capital gears up to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, would appear to depend in the first instance in him still being with Israel Premier-Tech next season, with his age, form in recent seasons and likely salary requirements highly likely to rule out any prospect of a move elsewhere.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.