Dubai (dpa) - If you hit a wall at 55 kilometers per hour with a racing bike, you don't usually express any ambitious goals so quickly. It's different with Chris Froome.
A good eight months after his horrific fall, which in the worst case could have cost the four-time tour winner, the British professional officially returns to cycling on the UAE tour. And even if he is initially planned as a helper and should still have a considerable training gap, his goal is clearly set: the fifth triumph at this year's Tour de France, which starts on June 27 in Nice.
«The only date that I have set myself is the Tour de France. The prospect of a fifth yellow jersey is huge for me, »said the 34-year-old recently in an interview published by his team Ineos. It would undoubtedly be the comeback of the year and more than a small sports fairy tale after Froome suffered fractures on his thigh, hip, elbow, ribs and neck area when he fell during the Dauphiné tour in June. Back then, cynics commented that Froome currently has “more broken bones than Grand Tours victories”.
The dominant team Ineos (formerly Sky) not only has Froome in their squad, but also the Welsh Geraint Thomas and the Colombian super talent Egan Bernal, who won the last two tours of France. In view of a postponed comeback and a training camp that was last canceled in January, the four-time tour winner Froome will first have to demonstrate a higher level in order to be able to have a say in the role of captain compared to Thomas and Bernal at the season's highlight tour.
«Of course Chris comes back and wants to reach for the fifth win. He is working very, very hard to get back to the required level, »assured Ineos team boss Dave Brailsford. Froome knows which way is waiting for him - and also how lucky he was last summer.
«It feels like I had a second chance after such a crash to return to the professional race. I definitely don't take this for granted, »said the veteran. His own end result will therefore be irrelevant for the tour starting in the United Arab Emirates this Sunday.
Froome, born in Kenya, is extremely tough. After a serious fall eight months ago, he quickly turned his focus back to the front, when he climbed the tour he once ran a few meters up the mountain after a fall. "Nobody should underestimate Chris," Brailsford warned. With a fifth tour win, Froome could catch up with the cycling greats Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain. "It's such a motivation," said Froome - the way there starts on Sunday.
Homepage of the race
Froome facts and figures
Froome on Twitter
Froome quotes at the BBC
Froome message from Ineos