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Chris Froome to support team leader Michael Woods at Tour de France

Four-time yellow jersey winner will be Israel Start-up Nation’s road captain as he returns to race after two-year absence

Chris Froome will support Israel Start-Up Nation team leader Michael Woods at the Tour de France which starts a week on Saturday, with the four-time yellow jersey winner taking on the role of road captain in his return to the race after a two-year absence.

The 36 year old’s career was almost ended in June 2019 when he crashed during a recce of the time trial course at the Criterium du Dauphiné, sustaining multiple fractures including to his right femur, putting him out of that year’s Tour de France.

He was not selected for the race by Ineos Grenadiers last year, and last July it was confirmed that he would be joining Israel Start-Up Nation, with Froome saying that he wanted to target a record-equalling fifth yellow jersey.

It has been clear all season, however, that his form is nowhere near the level that with Team Sky brought him seven Grand Tour victories, two of those in the Vuelta and one at the Giro d’Italia.

He has participated in five week-long races so far this year, never finishing inside the top 20 on an individual stage, and his highest overall finish is 47th place, which he secured at both the UAE Tour in February and at the Dauphiné last month.

Woods, by contrast, comes to the Tour de France in strong form, having finished fifth overall at both the Tour de Romandie and the Tour du Suisse, where on Sunday he finished second in the concluding stage.

“After two years away from the Tour de France I can’t wait to get back,” Froome said of his inclusion in the squad for this year’s race.

“It has been an arduous journey since my crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2019, but this has been one of my biggest motivations.

“I’ve been working tirelessly to get to where I am, and although my ambitions this year won’t be as leader, I hope to add my experience and support to the team as best I can as road captain,” he added.

“We have a strong contender in Michael Woods, and I look forward to giving my all for him and the team in the battle to Paris.”

Israel Start-Up Nation sports manager, Rik Verbrugghe, said: “Chris will be our road captain in this year’s Tour de France. As a four-time winner of the Tour, the value of his experience cannot be underestimated. It will be extremely useful for the team during the race.

“On a performance level, I believe that we will see another improvement from the Dauphiné to the Tour after our recent training camp in the Alps. We hope to see Chris progress stage by stage throughout the race.”

Woods, announced yesterday as leading the team’s challenge in the race, will be targeting stage wins rather than the overall title.

“I am really excited to represent Israel Start-Up Nation in the Tour de France, especially in a team leader role,” said the Canadian.

“I had an opportunity to lead a team in a Grand Tour, but never at the Tour de France. I am honoured to be given this position, especially considering the quality of the team we have.

“My main goals and priorities are clear: stage wins first and try to go high on the general classification. We want to do well on the GC, no doubt, most important thing for me is the stage wins,” he added. “That’s the main focus.”

Simon joined 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.

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