CHRIS FROOME’S chances of a mid-season transfer are over after a source close to his contract situation told Cyclingnews that the four-time Tour de France winner would remain at Team Ineos until his contract expires at the end of the season.
The news comes after weeks of speculation linking Froome to a mid-season move to Israel Start-Up Nation ahead of this year’s rescheduled Tour de France.
Froome is out of contract at the end of the year and has been linked to a number of teams including Israel Start-Up Nation, CCC Team, Bahrain McLaren and Movistar.
Bahrain McLaren, although having the best roster from the possible list of suitors, is hampered by financial constraints related to the Covid-19 pandemic and has put its riders on wage deferrals. CCC Team has yet to find a sponsor beyond 2020, while Movistar was quick to distance themselves from a high-profile move after staking its future on a flurry of younger riders signed at the end of 2019.
Froome’s position at Team Ineos looked uncertain ahead of the Tour, with Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas also looking to lead the team. Froome, 35, has not raced a Grand Tour since 2018 and is coming back from a long injury layoff after crashing at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné but he told media several times that he is fit and ready to aim for a fifth and record-equaling Tour de France title.
A slow response from Team Ineos when it came to contract talks opened the door for other teams to approach Froome, but at a recent training in Isola, France, the team assured Froome that he would form part of their strategy at the Tour de France, with a three-pronged leadership challenge.
There had been concern within the Froome camp that a decision to move to another team for 2021 would threaten his spot in this year’s Tour. However, those concerns appear to have been eased by the team for now. The team has not yet released their final selection for the Tour.
A move to Israel Start-Up Nation this summer would have given Froome a clear run at Tour leadership but it would have also needed the blessing of Dave Brailsford and possibly a financial compensation package in order to release Froome from his current deal earlier than planned. The Israel team’s roster is also not currently equipped to fully support Froome, and would need strengthening over the winter in any case.
The end of transfer speculation over a mid-season move does little to dispel talk surrounding Froome’s long-term future. Cyclingnews learned that Ineos is still some way off when it comes to offering its only multiple Grand Tour winner a new contract and that talks with Israel Start-up Nation has reached a point where any counter offer from Ineos would be too late.
An announcement over Froome’s long-term future is set to be made in the near future.