Chris Froome admits he is facing a year of truth” in 2023 to see if he can continue to make progress in his return from injury.
Four-time Tour de France champion Froome has been working his way back after suffering serious injuries at the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine.
He has shown some encouraging signs this year, including a third-place finish on the stage to Alpe d’Huez at the Tour, but he has not got close to his peak form.
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“I've had better and worse times,” he told Marca.
“It was hard for me to start the season. Then I looked good on the Tour, but then I got Covid. It affected me a lot and it was difficult for me to recover. I have had hard moments, but also positive ones.
“After the accident, I feel like I'm taking steps. I don't know where I can go, but I'm still encouraged to improve.”
Regarding his goals, the 37-year-old said: “If we talk about winning the Tour de France again, I am not thinking about that.
“The dream is still there, but it’s difficult. I am only focusing on following the process.
“I am a person who likes challenges and the process. I am on that road and I am working toward it. I suffered a terrible crash that almost forced me out of cycling and I have managed to come back. Now things are different.
“This year I was motivated by some of my performances, but for different reasons, I didn’t have the opportunity to truly show where I am at.”
After crashing heavily at the Criterium du Dauphine in the summer of 2019, Froome did not return to racing until February 2020.
He left Ineos Grenadiers at the end of the season and is now riding for Israel-PremierTech.
“This year was the first year since the accident that I haven’t had any problems,” he said.
“I want to have simple challenges, like having a long period without any problems or targeting a stage win.
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“This season is going to be the year of truth. To really know where I am.”
While Froome is determined to continue riding, one potential looming issue is the new UCI WorldTour relegation system.
Israel-PremierTech are set to be relegated from the WorldTour which means they will not be able to stay at the top level of cycling and could miss out on races such as the Tour de France.
To add further insult, the relegation is not for just 2023 but for the next three seasons.
“I think this system is a death sentence for many teams,” said Froome.
“A lot of structures literally live year after year and if you have to tell a team that you're potentially not going to be in the Tour de France for the next three years, a lot of teams will just close their doors.
“Personally, I would love to see this change to a one-year system. If you're relegated, it's kind of a wake-up call to get you back up, but if you miss three years, you could be losing two teams every time that happens.”
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