Chris Froome at loggerheads with Ineos — what does this mean for four-time Tour de France winner?

John MacLeary
The Telegraph
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Chris Froome and Sir Dave Brailsford - Chris Froome at loggerheads with Ineos — what does this mean for four-time Tour de France winner? - GETTY IMAGES
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Chris Froome and Sir Dave Brailsford - Chris Froome at loggerheads with Ineos — what does this mean for four-time Tour de France winner? - GETTY IMAGES

Chris Froome, the four-time Tour de France winner, is on the verge of making a controversial mid-season transfer to a rival team, according to reports.

Whether or not this move happens remains to be seen. In these times of sporting and financial uncertainty it is difficult to predict anything, let alone which team Froome will join should he choose to quit Ineos.

Unlike in other sports, few cyclists make mid-season transfers and so if Froome were to do so it would be huge news. However, last week it was reported that Froome, who turns 35 on Wednesday, had been approached “with interest in either a mid-season or end-of-year transfer”.

Froome refused to deny the report, saying he did not know what team he would be riding in 2021 and that he felt he had the legs to challenge for the yellow jersey this year despite having not won the Tour since 2017.

Over the weekend, a report in L'Equipe added fuel to the fire suggesting the relationship between Froome and Ineos may be beyond repair. The reported spat with Ineos may have been fuelled by comments made by Egan Bernal, Froome's Colombian team-mate and the reigning Tour champion.

Bernal, 23, is alleged to have said he would not sacrifice his own ambitions for a team-mate if he were to arrive on the start line in Nice with the form he believed would win him a second yellow jersey. “Chris is clearly angry with the team management because nobody reacted to Bernal’s words,” a family member told L'Equipe. “He asked to resolve the situation quickly, but has not yet received a response.”

Rumoured to be on a salary of around €5 million a year, as one of the highest paid cyclists in the world few teams would theoretically be able to match the Kenya-born Briton's wages, which begs the question: what matters more, one final pay day or guaranteed leadership duties at the Tour?

While money and protected rider status may be key in what happens next for Froome, his age may also prove a sticking point.

And then there's his form. Having not competed at a grand tour since 2018 following the career-threatening crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné that prematurely ended his 2019 season, Froome's form is unknown. The suspension of racing during the Covid-19 crisis, however, may benefit him.

With the playing field levelled during the break, should racing resume on August 1, as scheduled in the revised UCI WorldTour calendar, then teams and riders will face the most gruelling block of racing the sport has ever witnessed. As a result of overlapping races several squads would likely struggle to send their first-choice teams to events, presenting several opportunities to riders both young and old.

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