Chris Froome says he believes he could have played a role at the Tour de France for Ineos Grenadiers, and that it was firmly a team decision to bench both himself and Geraint Thomas.
Dave Brailsford made headlines a week before the start of the Tour when former champions Froome and Thomas were left out of the Ineos team, which instead focused in on sole leader Egan Bernal and a support unit headed up by 2019 Giro winner Richard Carapaz.
Thomas and Froome are both racing at Tirreno-Adriatico and are lined up for the Giro and Vuelta respectively, but questions have been asked as to whether, with Bernal effectively out of GC contention and seemingly unable to rein in Primoz Roglic and his dominant Jumbo-Visma side, Ineos are missing the experience of two former winners of the yellow jersey.
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Froome would have been ‘more than happy’ to help Bernal at Tour
Speaking to Eurosport’s Orla Chennaoui ahead of Stage 15, where Bernal unravelled to end his hopes of retaining the yellow jersey, Froome said he felt he could have done a job at the Tour. Asked if it was more of a team decision and whether he was ready to race, Froome replied:
"Yes, definitely. I think I could have played a role but the team decided that was not going to be the best thing for them and for myself personally.
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“I think, I can only speak for myself but I mean I would have been more than happy to have gone to the Tour and helped as much as I could. But I think it made a lot more sense for me to not be under that amount of pressure right now, obviously with where I am at trying to get back to my old level.
It’s really difficult to tell from the outside. Between myself and G we have got a lot of experience, we've been racing the Tour for years now, we've won it five times between the two of us, so I would have liked to think we could have contributed in that sense in terms of helping the team.
“But at the end of the day the Tour does come down to having the legs and that what's going to be the difference at the end of the day and will be the factor if Egan can win or not. It's going to come down to how he is feeling in the last few GC days.”
Froome’s big target for 2020 is the Vuelta before he moves teams to Israel Start-Up Nation for 2021, where he will aim for that fifth Tour crown. Froome is still on the long road back from the awful crash he suffered at the Dauphine in 2019 and hopes to be back to his best in time for next season.
Asked about winning a fifth Tour, he replied: “I’m not getting too carried away about that thought right now, I’m just going to keep obviously cracking away with my training, with racing away from the Tour and keep building towards next year.
“Obviously there are no guarantees in sport but I’ve obviously got a massive will to be back there next year and certainly with a new team a bit of a new challenge in that sense. Hoping I’ll be back to my best next year.
“The Vuelta is definitely a key part of that but I don’t think the Vuelta is necessarily the be all and end all either. What is most important is that I get to the end of this season knowing that I have made the progression that I’ve needed to get back to my old self again, so that I can start next season really with a clear slate and get straight back into it.”
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