The news will bring a decade-long partnership, during which Froome has won seven Grand Tours, to an end.

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"Chris’s current contract comes to an end in December and we have taken the decision now not to renew it," said Sir Dave Brailsford in a statement released by the team. "We are making this announcement earlier than would usually be the case to put an end to recent speculation and allow the Team to focus on the season ahead.

"Chris has been with us from the start. He is a great champion and we have shared many memorable moments over the years but I do believe this is the right decision for the Team and for Chris."

Froome is still expected to ride the 2020 Tour de France with Ineos as he targets a fifth Tour title, and could potentially also be in the line-up for the Vuelta later in the Autumn.

However, his role at the Tour sees him compete for team leadership responsibilities with both 2019 champion Egan Bernal and 2018 winner Geraint Thomas, and the 35-year-old is understandably keen to pick and choose his roles in the final years of his career. Brailsford confirmed this in the statement, saying:

Given his achievements in the sport, Chris is understandably keen to have sole team leadership in the next chapter of his career - which is not something we are able to guarantee him at this point. A move away from Team INEOS can give him that certainty. At the same time, it will also give other members of our team the leadership opportunities they too have earned and are rightly seeking.

"I am excited about the talent we have right across the team at the current time and all our collective focus is on preparing for the season ahead. Like everyone across the sport we are all looking forward to the start of racing next month."

Froome added: "It has been a phenomenal decade with the team, we have achieved so much together and I will always treasure the memories. I look forward to exciting new challenges as I move into the next phase of my career but in the meantime my focus is on winning a fifth Tour de France with Team INEOS."

Froome will join Israel Start-Up Nation for the 2021 season.

Christopher Froome

Image credit: Getty Images

FROM DOMESTIQUE TO SEVEN-TIME GRAND TOUR WINNER

Froome joined Team Sky from Barloworld in late 2009 as a raw talent and enjoyed a steady first season as a domestique with the team.

But from 2011 onwards his career took off. Since the start of that season Froome has completed 12 Grand Tours and has finished off the podium on just one of those occasions (with a fourth place at the 2012 Vuelta).

He played a key role in helping Bradley Wiggins win the 2012 Tour de France before taking over the team leader role in the following season, beating Nairo Quintana to the top step on the podium.

Froome went on to take a hat-trick of Tour titles from 2015 to 2017, and following the final win of that run went on to also take the 2017 Vuelta title.

Britain's Chris Froome of Team Sky celebrates after winning the Vuelta a Espana cycling race after the Stage 21 on September 10, 2017 in Madrid, Spain.

Image credit: Getty Images

In late 2017 Froome returned a potential Adverse Analytical Finding for the asthma medication Salbutamol but, after testing of b-samples and following an investigation by the UCI, Froome was found to have not breached the rules. Ineos criticised the leaking of the test results before full testing had taken place.

The Kenyan-born British rider’s famous comeback victory in the 2018 Giro meant that he held all Grand Tour titles at the same time, the first rider to do so since 1983.

Froome had finished second in the 2011 Vuelta, but a doping offence by initial winner Juan Jose Cobo meant that in 2019 Froome was retrospectively declared the winner, taking his Grand Tour tally to seven and making him Britain’s first ever winner of one of cycling’s three biggest stage races.

The 35-year-old has not raced competitively since July 2019 due to serious injuries sustained in a crash at the Criterium du Dauphine.


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