Chris Froome has told team-mates he will stay with Ineos for this year’s Tour de France, at least according to one of them, the Dutch rider Dylan van Baarle.
Froome, who is in the final year of his contract, has been strongly linked with a move away from the British team in recent weeks. The seven-time grand tour champion has just turned 35 and while he insists he still has a few seasons left at the top, and is desperate to win a record-equalling fifth Tour title, Ineos have two other Tour winners in their ranks in Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas, both of whom want to race this year’s Tour. Bernal and Thomas would both expect to be given joint leadership.
It was reported earlier this week that Israel Start-Up Nation had offered Froome a lucrative three-year deal starting on August 1, guaranteeing him sole Tour leadership. And with Ineos yet to offer the Briton a new deal, it was suggested that Froome might be close to signing with an ambitious young team, albeit one without any winning pedigree.
However, any mid-season move would require the consent of Ineos principal Sir Dave Brailsford. And sources have suggested to Telegraph Sport that Brailsford would rather bench Froome for this year’s Tour — if it looks as if a three-pronged attack might become too tricky to manage — than to see him race for a rival team.
Either way, Van Baarle, who is currently on an Ineos training camp with Froome and others from their Tour longlist, revealed that the Briton had told them he would not be leaving before the Tour, which is due to start on August 29.
"Of course we've talked about it, because it's in the news all the time,” Van Baarle told Dutch newspaper AD. “But, as far as I know, he's staying and wants to ride the Tour with Ineos. In the end, I don't know what's going on behind the scenes with him either, but that's what he says to us, so I assume he'll be there.”
Van Baarle added that Froome had not told them anything about his plans for next year or beyond, only saying he would not be lining up against Ineos in August. "That would be strange," Van Baarle said. "And I don't think it will happen that he will go early.”
Froome’s rival Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) won the Slovenian national road race title on Sunday against a high-quality field which included another Tour contender in Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates). It was the first cycling race since coronavirus stopped the season back in March. Roglic beat Pogacar up the final climb to win by 10 seconds.