A defiant Chris Froome declared he was “not finished yet” on Monday as his new cycling team Israel Start Up Nation held a press conference ahead of a season in which the Briton is targeting a fifth Tour de France. Froome has won four editions of the Tour de France and switched from Ineos to ISN, backed by Israeli-Canadian billionaire Sylvanm Adams, in his bid to join an elite clique led by Eddy Merckx who have won five.
Fighting back from a dreadful accident in June 2019, Froome will be 36 when the Tour rolls out of Brest, and much has happened since he last won a Tour de France in 2017.
But the will that drove him to a magnificent seven Grand Tour titles was there in the Briton’s gaze when he outlined his plans.
“Age is a state of mind. I feel relatively young in cycling years because I only got into the sport a little bit later,” he said.
“The way nutrition and sport have evolved over the years, it is certainly possible for athletes to go on later and later.”
Froome also said while leaving Ineos was a gamble, Tadej Pogacar’s 2020 tour win for UAE Emirates was an inspiration.
“That was a fantastic race by him, and it does give a lot of hope to smaller teams, seeing a scenario coming off like that, it shows at the end of the day it does come down to the strength of the leaders.”
Froome fractured a thigh, elbow and vertebrae in a high speed crash into a wall 18-months ago and told AFP shortly afterwards it was “like starting from zero again, below zero if you like, that’s what it feels like”.
Before the accident, Froome made no secret of his ambition to equal the five Tour de France races won by Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, but is now focused on getting fully fit.
“I’d like to get to number five, and keep racing and targeting Grand Tours until I’m ready to retire from the sport on my own terms,” he said.
“Being put out by a crash didn’t sit well with me, so as soon as I found out I could make a full recovery and there was nothing physically that should hold me back, that was a simple decision for me to make.”
Froome missed the Ineos cut for the 2020 Tour de France roster but did complete the shortened 18-day Vuelta a Espana.
RBA/AFP Photo: Bettini