Could Chris Froome be leaving INEOS mid-season?

Team leadership questions might cause four-time Tour de France winner to seek new squad

May 14th, 2020 by | Posted in News | Tags: , ,

With the revised, dense 2020 WorldTour season not due to start for another two-and-a-half months, speculation has arisen about a possible mid-season move for Chris Froome away from Team INEOS. Froome has raced with the team for eleven seasons, accruing four Tour de France, three Criterium du Dauphiné, two Vuelta a España, two Tour de Romandie and one Giro d’Italia title in that time.

The guesswork began with a Cyclingnews article on Thursday which said that Froome is in talks with several teams, as his current three-year contract comes due at the end of the season. Two teams–one of which is rumoured to be Movistar–have contacted the soon-to-be-35-year-old Brit about a possible mid-season switch. UCI rules allow riders to make mid-season transfers during the first two weeks of August if all parties agree to the move.

Froome, having returned to racing in the February’s calamitous UAE Tour after six months away to recover from a terrible leg injury suffered in a Criterium du Dauphiné time time warmup, told Cyclingnews, “Following my crash last year and subsequent recovery I am extremely confident that I can return to Tour winning form. Which team that will be with beyond 2020, I don’t know yet.”

Froome won the Giro with an audacious, Contador-style, long-range attack. Photo: Sirotti
Froome has won seven Grand Tours in eleven years with Sky/INEOS.

Team INEOS has become crowded with Grand Tour winners, what with the addition of current Giro champion Richard Carapaz, who was part of a crowded lineup at Movistar in 2019. Team leadership at the Tour de France is a major issue on the squad. Egan Bernal, the 2019 champion, recently muddied the waters when he told Spanish Eurosport that he wouldn’t sacrifice himself for Froome and Geraint Thomas, the 2018 winner: “I’m young, I’ve already won one Tour de France, and I’m not going to throw away an opportunity to win another Tour de France, that’s for sure. That I would sacrifice myself being at 100 per cent…I don’t think I’m going to do that, nor will anyone.”

Movistar went from too many cooks in 2019 to not enough this season, with 40-year-old Alejandro Valverde and new face Enric Mas the team’s main stage race leaders, and Marc Soler yet to show he’s a Grand Tour threat after taking the 2018 Paris-Nice title. Bahrain-McLaren has also been speculated as Froome’s new home–possibly to Mikel Landa’s chagrin–but the squad is one of the WorldTour outfits that has taken pay cuts during the COVID-19 interruption to the season.