Category: Chris Froome

Froome to kick off 2019 season at Tour of Colombia

BOGOTA (AFP) — Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome will kick off his 2019 campaign by riding in the Tour of Colombia for the first time in February, the Briton announced Wednesday.

The 33-year-old won a third straight grand tour title earlier this year at the Giro d’Italia, but lost his Tour de France crown to Sky teammate Geraint Thomas.

Froome started his 2018 season at the Ruta del Sol in Spain, but has recently been training in Colombia and in the new year will instead look to emulate Egan Bernal, who won the inaugural race in his home country nine months ago.

The second edition will take place from February 12-17 in Antioquia, where Froome’s rivals could include Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde.

Read the full article at Froome to kick off 2019 season at Tour of Colombia on VeloNews.com.

Froome: ‘Salbutamol case was a distraction’


Chris Froome (Sky) said his long-running Salbutamol case kept him from being at his best in this summer’s Tour de France.

Speaking to VeloNews in a telephone interview, Froome admitted that the Salbutamol case was more of a distraction than he wanted to admit.

“If I am honest with myself, it was definitely a distraction for me and my preparation going into the Tour de France,” Froome said. “When you have something like that going on in the sidelines, it does take a lot of energy and focus when you’re meant to be thinking about preparation and recovery.”

Froome’s comments to VeloNews, as part of a larger interview looking back at his 2018 season that will be featured in an upcoming print edition, reveal just how much the Salbutamol case affected him both on and off the bike.

Froome was eventually cleared just days before the start of the 2018 Tour, but the emotional drain took its toll. Froome fell short of winning a record-tying fifth yellow jersey, while Sky teammate Geraint Thomas rode to victory in Paris.

Froome’s case dragged on for months once it was leaked to the media last December and dominated headlines throughout the season. Froome defied calls to step down as the case played out and doggedly won the Giro d’Italia with a dramatic, late-race coup. Though he put up a strong public face of a mix of defiance and business as usual, he admitted the building tension and stress played a negative factor throughout his season.

“The racing always takes preference, but it’s only natural that you read what the media is writing and what people are saying,” Froome continued. “I was extremely grateful of getting to the Tour and have the ruling before the race started. At least from that side of it, I could draw a line and begin the race with more tranquility.”

Froome, 33, stopped short of saying the ongoing drama cost him a record-tying fifth yellow jersey and was quick to tip his hat to Thomas. But he admitted the burden of the case and the possibility of a racing ban weighed heavily on him the closer the got to the Tour.

Though some critics accuse Froome of doing much worse than Salbutamol, an asthma treatment allowed under certain conditions by the WADA code, the Sky rider insists he is racing and winning within the rules.

“It was tough, really tough,” Froome continued. “Especially when my credibility as a clean sportsman was questioned. That is something that I hold quite dear to myself.

“I feel as if I live by my principles, and to have everything questioned over something like Salbutamol, it was frustrating,” he continued. “A lot of people didn’t understand what was going on. A lot of people didn’t understand the testing around Salbutamol. As frustrating as it was, it is not going to stop me from doing what I do. There was nothing untoward, and that was shown by the end of the case.”

Sky still hasn’t spelled out its 2019 racing program, but Froome said he is relieved that the Salbutamol case won’t be hanging over his upcoming campaign like it was during the past several months.

Read the full article at Froome: ‘Salbutamol case was a distraction’ on VeloNews.com.

Froome uncertain of Giro d’Italia title defense


MILAN (AFP) — Defending champion Chris Froome said Wednesday he was still uncertain whether he will defend his Giro d’Italia title as the 102nd edition of the race was presented in Milan.

Froome, 33, became the first British rider to win the Giro last May to complete a ‘grand slam’ after his Tour de France and Vuelta a España wins in 2017.

“I’m not 100 percent sure if I’ll be there at the Giro d’Italia 2019. It’s a decision we’ll have to make in December,” said Froome, who appeared onstage during the presentation.

“The pink jersey for me is a great honor; it had been missing from my collection.

“It was an important jersey for the history of cycling, and something I had dreamed of as a child.

“It’s also an important race for the team as it’s the 10th anniversary of Team Sky.”

Froome finished third in this year’s Tour de France, which was won by Sky teammate Geraint Thomas.

He failed to match the record of five Tour de France victories jointly held by Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil, and Miguel Indurain.

And with a shorter gap between the end of the Giro on June 2 and the start of the Tour de France on June 29, he could opt to skip the race.

“We’re all together in December at a training camp so I think in that period we will decide everything for next year,” he added.

“One thing is certain if I’m not there one of my teammates will be coming to try to win.”

Last year’s Giro started in Israel, but this year’s race which covers 3,518km will be almost entirely within Italy, apart from a time trial into San Marino.

The race starts with a tough 8.2km time trial in Bologna concluding in an uphill finish at the San Luca Sanctuary which overlooks the city.

“A start like that, with the Bologna time trial, is explosive and interesting,” said Froome.

“It’s a very balanced race, between the time trials and massive mountains.”

The riders will tackle climbs including the Passo Gavia at 2,618m altitude and Passo del Mortirolo with a total of seven summit finishes, two on individual time trials.

The final week will include stiff mountain tests but the overall winner will not be known until the final day and a third individual time trial which finishes in Verona’s amphitheater.

“It’s a brutal, brutal second half,” added Froome. “There’s two quite difficult time trials in the first week which I like.”

If Froome chooses to skip the Giro, Thomas may step in and carry the mantle for Sky.

“Before this year I would have said no [to racing the Giro and Tour],” Thomas told The Guardian on Tuesday. “Froomey’s done it in previous years and I thought: ‘Wow, he’s special.’ But look at Tom Dumoulin [second in the Giro and Tour in 2018]. Maybe it’s possible.”

Read the full article at Froome uncertain of Giro d’Italia title defense on VeloNews.com.

Chris Froome undecided over defence of Giro d’Italia on ‘explosive’ course

• Team Sky rider undecided following announcement of route
• Decision rests partly on Froome’s desire to win Tour de France

The Giro d’Italia champion Chris Froome said he is still undecided about riding in next year’s edition but added that the start of the 102nd route, announced on Wednesday, looked explosive.

The Team Sky rider became the first Briton to win the century-old race in May, and was briefly the first cyclist in 35 years to hold all three Grand Tour titles at the same time.

Related: Geraint Thomas: ‘Ideally, Froome would ride for me but that’s not possible’

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Thomas says Sky management favored Froome in early TDF stages


In a wide-ranging interview with The Guardian Tuesday, Geraint Thomas provided some insight on the backroom dynamics at Team Sky during the 2018 Tour de France.

The Welshman admitted that at times he was frustrated to not have the full support and protection his team gave to defending champion Chris Froome. However, he said that any slights during the race never impacted his close friendship with Froome.

“The biggest thing with Froomey was that it was never awkward,” Thomas told The Guardian.

Heading into the 2018 Tour with Froome’s Salbutamol case still up in the air, Sky was expected to give Thomas full backing as GC leader. Then, mere days before the Grand Depart, Froome was cleared.

Thomas was slated to be the second leader behind leader Froome, but from the outset, Thomas was Sky’s top GC rider following a crash that cost Froome time in stage 1. Team management had to make some decisions about which rider would be backed as the outright leader, and that didn’t always sit well with Thomas.

Ahead of the stage 3 team time trial, Thomas was informed that the team would only wait for Froome in the event of a flat tire, although he was 51 seconds behind Thomas in the overall.

“[I] sat there and stewed,” Thomas told The Guardian. “That’s a bit s—t. F—king hell, guys, could you really not wait for me?

“I was frustrated because I thought I was also a protected rider. But it’s not a decision they took lightly. They would have thought about it and debated it.”

Thomas didn’t let frustration distract him from the race, though. He said he let it slide and carried on racing all the way to Paris, where he claimed his first yellow jersey. Froome ended up third to Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb).

Thomas took yellow on the 11th stage to La Rosière and defended the lead throughout the rest of the race. Thomas told The Guardian that Froome did not abandon his ambitions to win the race during the later stages. Froome twice informed Thomas of his intentions to attack in the mountains.

“I guess that’s a good example of not racing against each other because he told me openly he was going to do it,” Thomas said. “If he’d been made to ride for me, people could now say: ‘Froomey could have attacked that day. Maybe he could have won.’ But it shows I was stronger. It worked out well in the end.”

Although Froome was unable to tie the record of five Tour de France GC wins in 2018, Thomas said his erstwhile leader was genuinely happy for him.

What does that mean for the 2019 Tour? Froome was unwilling to draw a line in the sand when queried after the Tour route was announced. In his interview with The Guardian, Thomas said, “I’d love to win it again.” However, the reigning Tour champion looks at the team dynamics realistically. He doesn’t expect Froome to sacrifice his chance at history, and given Froome’s loyalty at the 2018 Tour, it seems likely that Thomas will return the favor.

More details of the 2018 Tour are expected to be detailed in Thomas’s forthcoming book, “The Tour According to G,” out November 1.

Read the full article at Thomas says Sky management favored Froome in early TDF stages on VeloNews.com.

Geraint Thomas: ‘Ideally, Froome would ride for me. But that’s not possible’

The Tour de France winner on overcoming frustration with Team Sky, meeting Messi and why he can’t wait for next year

Geraint Thomas has already told me about the night he and Lionel Messi met up in an underground car park and how it feels to have won the Tour de France. He has considered public suspicion of Team Sky and explained his long battle to be accepted as their leading rider in this year’s race ahead of Chris Froome. Thomas pauses briefly now and, stepping away from the whirlwind of the last four months, looks ahead.

“I’d love to win it again,” he says. “Each year’s different but I still feel I’m improving even though I’m 32. I still have the motivation and commitment where I think Brad Wiggins, once he’d won it [in 2012], didn’t have 100% motivation. I’ve still got the appetite. I enjoyed the whole race – not just the end.”

Related: Tour de France 2019 plans show organisers still hope to curb Team Sky | William Fotheringham

Related: From Wales to the Champs-Élysées: the selfless rise of Geraint Thomas | William Fotheringham

In the peloton, I think everyone respects us. But the media and some fans don’t like the dominance

Related: Cardiff praises local boy Geraint Thomas after Tour de France win

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TDF: Froome won’t say if he or Thomas should lead Sky


PARIS (AFP) — Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome was coy Thursday about whether he or Geraint Thomas would lead Sky at the 2019 edition, but said a yellow jersey would make a great 10th birthday gift for the British team.

Froome came third at the 2018 Tour de France as teammate Thomas emerged from his shadow to secure his maiden GC win after a stronger start than his erstwhile captain.

“It doesn’t matter if I am or not,” Froome said when asked if he knew if he would lead Sky’s victory bid next year.

“It could end up being similar to 2018 where I had a double role to play alongside Geraint Thomas,” said Froome.

“It’s going to be a tough, tough, tough race, that’s for sure. But if one of us could win it, it would be really special as this year is the 10th anniversary of the founding of Team Sky,” said the Kenyan-born Briton.

“There are five summit finishes and with three of the stages going over 2,000 meters, well that just changes the whole dynamic of the Tour,” added Froome.

“It’s hard but it makes for good racing.”

When asked if he would defend his Giro d’Italia title from 2018, Froome brushed off the question.

“I haven’t even seen the route for the Giro yet,” he said.

Defending Tour champion Thomas, meanwhile, was more open to the possibility of challenging for honors on the three-week Italian race.

“Racing both the Giro and the Tour is something I never thought I’d be able to do, but it is something to which I’ll now maybe give some thought,” said the 32-year-old Welshman.

“I’ll be starting to have a chat about my program with my team in the next couple of weeks and then try and formulate some kind of decision.

“Chris did it last year, so maybe,” he added.

Thomas said the 2019 Tour looked like a classic in the making.

“It’s got a bit of everything in it with some very high climbs indeed being the first thing that comes to mind,” he said

“But there are a great deal of lesser climbs too which will take their toll.

“The time trial is a bit shorter but I’m sure that it will be just as key as a longer one in the end.”

Tour de France route designer Thierry Gouvenou, said he felt Froome may be the stronger contender in 2019.

“Of the two of them I’d say Froome was better equipped on this type of route,” Gouvenou said.

“Froome remains an iconic leader for Sky, and Thomas has found his Holy Grail.’”

Read the full article at TDF: Froome won’t say if he or Thomas should lead Sky on VeloNews.com.

Froome in no hurry to set 2019 markers


Following a wild and hectic two-year rollercoaster, Chris Froome is in no hurry to set markers for the 2019 racing season.

The four-time Tour de France champion pulled the plug on his season at the Tour of Britain last month and is enjoying some family time with his newborn daughter.

Speaking to VeloNews, Froome said the 2019 racing calendar is not quite on the horizon.

“We haven’t made a decision yet,” Froome said in a telephone interview. “Once we see all the routes of the Giro and Tour, and once we get together in November, we can start to talk about next year.”

Froome is taking a respite following his run of four straight grand tours that included victories in the 2017 Tour de France, 2017 Vuelta a España, and 2018 Giro d’Italia. His bid for a fifth yellow jersey fell short as Sky teammate Geraint Thomas barreled to victory. That still marked four straight grand tour victories for Team Sky, and Froome said he has no regrets about how his season played out.

Froome won the Giro to complete cycling’s version of the “Tiger Slam” by winning all three grand tours in a row across two seasons. Froome — who recently added his influence to push for a stronger voice for riders — said the 2018 calendar was optimal for a run at the Giro-Tour double.

“We wanted to target the Giro and last year was the best opportunity because of the extra week of recovery between the Giro and Tour,” Froome said. “It was important to win the Giro. When I look back, it was one of the most special wins of my career.”

The big question going into 2019 is how Team Sky will balance its wealth of GC options. Along with Thomas and Froome, there’s budding Colombian superstar Egan Bernal as well as Michal Kwiatkowski, who are eager for more chances to lead at grand tours.

It’s likely Sky will give Bernal a chance to lead at a grand tour following his spectacular Tour debut in 2018. The 21-year-old climber was spectacular in the final week and will be keen to have a shot at leadership, most likely at the Giro. Kwiatkowski will also want to continue on his progression despite running out of gas at the Vuelta after leading in the first week.

All eyes will be on how the team balances Thomas and Froome. Both will want to have another shot at the Tour. Froome’s record and weight as a leader would suggest the team will back him for a run at a record-tying fifth yellow jersey. Thomas, however, will likely start as a protected co-captain, similar to how the team approached the 2018 Tour.

Sky sport director Nicolas Portal told VeloNews during the Vuelta that the team has not yet mapped out its grand tour plans for 2019.

“We have had a few very intense months,” Portal said. “We have some ideas but sometimes it’s not the best to rush things.”

“We don’t have any plans yet,” Portal said. “I think we need to — oof — have some cooling down. We need some time at home. When we meet again in November, then we can speak about it, with Froomey, with G [Thomas], with Egan [Bernal], Wout [Poels], what do you think guys? That would give us a few months to think about things calmly.”

After winning the Giro and Vuelta to round-out his palmares, what remains for Froome is to win a record-tying fifth yellow jersey. It’s likely the Tour will be at the center of his 2019 calendar, but he’s not giving away anything yet.

For Froome, who also was cleared during his controversial Salbutamol case, taking a few weeks away from the pressure-cooker of the peloton is welcome.

“I am taking a bit of time off right now,” Froome said. “I will be get back on the bike soon enough.”

Check an upcoming issue of VeloNews for more from Froome on his 2018 Giro d’Italia victory.

Read the full article at Froome in no hurry to set 2019 markers on VeloNews.com.

Froome steps to center stage as riders press for a larger voice in CPA


Tour de France star Chris Froome has emerged as a leading voice for change among disgruntled pro riders who are demanding more from their riders’ association.

The usually discreet Froome has lent his star power and voice to a budding movement among discontented factions of the peloton that are calling for better representation at the CPA (Cyclistes Professionales Associés) as well as more input at the highest levels of the sport.

“It’s time for a change,” Froome told VeloNews. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Speaking to VeloNews via telephone Thursday, Froome said riders are insisting that the CPA creates a more open and representative system. And there is even the threat of a splinter group separate and independent from the CPA if the riders are not satisfied.

“There is a lot of talking going on behind the scenes,” Froome said. “There is talk of potential of a new union or trying to work with the CPA. The ball is in their court.”

Riders across the peloton are fuming over the latest election process to select the CPA’s new president. The election — scheduled as part of the Innsbruck road world cycling championships — has kicked off a firestorm of discontent among the biggest stars of the peloton. Incumbent Gianni Bugno defeated fellow retired pro David Millar on Thursday.

The contested election seems to be just the tip of the iceberg. Froome and other top riders in the peloton have taken to social media to raise the battle cry for better representation and a stronger voice for the racers.

“This election is an awakening to a lot of riders of what the situation currently is,” Froome said. “It’s made riders aware of what needs to change going forward.”

Tensions have been ratcheting up over the past several weeks as two-time CPA president Bugno faced a challenge from Millar.

The ex-pro quickly saw riders back his renegade bid for the top spot. The CPA — cycling’s only officially UCI-recognized riders’ group — has never seen a contested presidential election. Millar’s final-hour challenge has revealed deep fractures within the group that is the closest thing that professional cycling has to a formal riders’ union.

When Millar cried foul over the voting process — which works under a delegate system meaning that Bugno was all but sure to win with confirmed backing from blocks of votes from Italy, Spain, and France — riders spoke out in indignation in their apparent inability to have much of an influence in their own riders’ association.

The only way for individual riders to vote — specifically, those not from nations voting as a block — was to travel to Innsbruck on Thursday and cast the vote in person. Calls to create some sort of electronic balloting system were blocked by the CPA. Realizing his vote would have little impact, Froome stayed at home Thursday with his family.

The voting rules and the CPA’s apparent disinterest to change them provoked outrage from among many of the top pros, many of whom took to social media to express their displeasure and frustration.

The usually diplomatic Froome was front and center in a high-profile protest letter sent to the CPA last week. Froome and fellow Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas were headline signatories among 27 top pros who were demanding changes within the CPA and calls for a more representative voting system.

“The CPA were getting upset that riders were speaking out publicly and not directly to them,” Froome explained. “So we said, let’s get something together between a group of some quite influential riders, riders with a name and voice in the sport, and send a collective message to them that’s not necessarily just British or American riders, but from a cross-section of riders from a lot of different nations.

“We wanted to tell them how we are feeling and what we’d like to see happening in the CPA,” Froome said. “It seems that e-mail was completely ignored and they will keep on doing what they want to do anyway.”

That growing sense of frustration and of powerlessness could see more pressure mounted on the CPA in the coming weeks and months. Millar hinted he might call for a second ballot if he lost Thursday and vowed to continue working to shake up the CPA.

CPA negotiates in the name of the peloton, but riders like Froome say most of the riders in the peloton have little or no influence among the group that is supposedly acting in their collective interests.

Froome, a four-time Tour de France winner, said he spoke to Bugno for the first time by telephone only last week.

“I find it very confusing to see statements from [UCI president David] Lappartient that it’s great that all the stakeholders are all on board when not a single rider was actually brought into these discussions,” Froome said. “It’s not his fault, it’s the fault of the CPA. As it stands now, it is not an organization that truly represents the riders. I have never seen Bugno face to face and I only spoke to him for the first time a few days ago, and I’ve been a pro for more than 10 years. That’s horrendous and that actually says a lot about the CPA.”

Riders are becoming more agitated over their collective dissatisfaction with the CPA and its apparent lack of relevance among many of today’s contemporary stars. Froome seems ready to lead the charge.

“If someone is going to go into these important meetings on behalf of the riders, at the very least, the riders should be informed and kept up to date about what decisions need to be taken and what changes are in the sport,” Froome said. “I was surprised to see the ‘2020 Reform’ was agreed to, but no one single rider has ever been asked about these reforms.”

The tension comes just as the teams have recently been fighting behind the scenes with the UCI and race organizers. Though all parties agreed to Lappartient’s 2020 Reform package earlier this week, there is a growing call among some teams and riders for a more active role in a sport long dominated by race organizers and the cycling federation.

“As it stands now, the CPA will do what the CPA wants to do,” Froome concluded. “They do not seem really concerned about what the riders want to do. This will be a big test for them. Will there be a new election, as the riders have requested, or will they carry on planning on what they want to do? The ball is in their court.”

Read the full article at Froome steps to center stage as riders press for a larger voice in CPA on VeloNews.com.

Froome, Thomas to skip worlds

LONDON (AFP) — Team Sky’s Tour de France winners Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas will miss this month’s road world championships in Austria after a grueling season in which they both won grand tour events, Team Sky has confirmed.

Team Sky sport director Brett Lancaster confirmed the British riders would not be competing at the event in Austria, which starts on September 22. Lancaster spoke to reporters at the Tour of Britain.

“Froome and G [Thomas] will finish their seasons here. It’s good to finish, on not necessarily a form-wise high, but on a morale and psychological boost for next year,” he told Cycling Weekly magazine. “I think [Thomas] originally thought about it [riding worlds]. I would have wanted him there in the team time trial but obviously he is burnt out after a massive season and the stress they put themselves under with training and diet.”

Froome and Thomas have historically struggled at the world championships road race, which marks the bookend to the racing season. Thomas was a DNF in the men’s road race in 2013, 2014, and 2016, while Froome failed to finish in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Froome’s third place in the individual time trial in 2017 marks the only podium finish at the elite road world championships between the two.

The Austrian world championship course marks a rare opportunity for grand tour riders like Froome or Thomas to shine. The mountainous course includes approximately 5,000 meters (16,040 feet) of total climbing. Grand tour winners such as Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) are favored on the course.

Lancaster hinted that Froome and Thomas may need some mental rest after a long season.

“I think the British and Aussie mentality is a little bit different to others, where they look after themselves all year but we tend to let ourselves go a bit when we can,” the Australian added. “So when you are switched on, you’re switched on but when you’re off, you’re off.”

Read the full article at Froome, Thomas to skip worlds on VeloNews.com.