Before embarking on a new adventure at Israel Start-Up Nation, Chris Froome wants to try winning the Tour de France for the fifth time on behalf of Team INEOS in September. According to sports director Servais Knaven, the upcoming departure of the 35-year-old Briton will not play a role during the Tour de France.
"During the Tour there will all be questions whether the fact that Chris is leaving affects his status in the team, but I see no reason why his now position would be different now," Knaven told NU.nl. "We want to win the Tour and if Chris is the best, he wins. That he will leave us after this year really makes no difference."
Team INEOS announced on Thursday that the expiring contract of Froome will not be extended, so that the born Kenyan will leave the British team after eleven very successful years after this season. With the ambitious Israel Start-Up Nation, the four-time Tour winner has also found a new team.
For example, more than a month and a half before the start of the delayed Tour (August 29-September 20) - and three weeks before the official start of the transfer period (August 1) - there was already clarity about the largest transfer in cycling this year.
"I think it is especially important that there is clarity to the outside," says Knaven. "All questions about Chris's future have now been answered, so we don't have to talk about that anymore and we will no longer be distracted in the run-up to and during the Tour."
In recent months, there have also been persistent rumors that Froome would leave during the season, because he cannot be the only leader in a team with the last two Tour winners (Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal). "We always had a little laugh when we saw those stories in the media, I think that was never discussed internally," says Knaven. "I don't think anyone would have wanted that either."
Servais Knaven was in the team leader's car with many successes of Chris Froome. (Photo: Pro Shots)
'We are all happy that we worked with Froome'
The fact is that - especially due to the fierce competition at Team INEOS - one of the most successful combinations in the history of cycling will come to an end at the end of this year. Froome came over from the small Barloworld in 2010 and gave Team Sky (which has been called Team INEOS since last year) four Tour victories, two victories in the Vuelta a España and one victory in the Giro d'Italia.
"I think we can say that it has been, and still is, something unique," said Knaven, who has been a team leader with Dave Brailsford's team since 2011 and has seen all of Froome's successes up close.
"It's a great story about how Chris was struggling with his health at the beginning of his career (Froome was diagnosed in 2009 with schistosomiasis, an infection with a parasitic worm, ed.), How he got rid of it and eventually a Tour winner has become. "
"Chris is a fantastic rider and we are all very happy that we have worked with him and are still working. We have been through quite a lot in ten years."
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