Chris Froome, the four-time winner of the Tour de France, has not been selected to appear at the 2023 French Grand Tour by his Israel-Premier Tech squad.
The 38-year-old, who’s only missed two Tours de France since 2012 (the 2019 race following his crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné before not being selected by Ineos in 2020) says he had the physical form to race the Tour but feels he was let down by equipment issues.
“Physically I was ready, but unfortunately I was unable to show my full ability at the races assigned to me due to equipment issues,” Froome told GCN. “I’m obviously disappointed with the decision. The Tour de France holds an incredibly special place in my heart.”
Froome was forced to make multiple bike changes at the recent CIC – Mont Ventoux where he eventually finished 55th. He has not recorded a top 10 finish at any race so far this season, having appeared at races such as the Santos Tour Down Under, Tour du Rwanda, the Tour de Romandie and the Route d’Occitanie. In fact, he has only finished inside the top 10 of a race once since his 2019 Dauphiné crash – his third place on last year’s Tour de France Alpe d’Huez stage.
Slightly awkwardly, Froome has been an investor in Factor Bikes, which are ridden by the Israel-Premier Tech squad. At the time he invested, Froome said he would be helping the company with product development.
“I’m really excited to be joining the Factor/Black Inc team,” Froome said. “Over the past year, I’ve had a first-hand look at Factor/Black Inc’s technical and development prowess. I truly believe that they’re building something special, and I can’t wait to bring my racing experience and product understanding to help the Company continue to bring ground-breaking innovations to cyclists all over the world.”
Israel – Premier Tech said in a press release they have selected an eight-man squad to target stage wins, having picked up two last year courtesy of Hugo Houle and Simon Clarke.
Both of those riders retain their places in the 2023 squad and will be accompanied by Michael Woods, Dylan Teuns, Guillaume Boivin, Krists Neilands, Nick Schultz and Corbin Strong.
“It was a tough decision to select our Tour de France team this year but we feel we selected eight riders best suited to fulfilling our performance objectives,” the team’s general manager, Kjell Carlström, said. “The fact that we had a difficult decision to make when looking at our long list shows the strength and depth of our rider group, and unfortunately we could not select everyone. We carefully looked at the necessary roles to fill when it comes to hunting for stage wins and chose our eight riders accordingly.”
In a video from a recent training camp, Israel-Premier Tech’s Daryl Impey highlighted there were 12 guys on the team’s long list for the Tour but that not everyone can make the final selection. The four riders who missed out are likely Impey, Froome, Jakob Fuglsang and Giacomo Nizzolo.
“There’s 12 guys here and 8 spots, which means 4 won’t make it,” Impey said. “Doesn’t mean they don’t deserve it, there’s just no space.”
Froome, who still has two years left on his contract with Israel-Premier Tech, has said he will aim towards a return to the French Grand Tour next year: “I respect the team’s decision and will take some time before refocusing on objectives later in the season and returning to the Tour de France in 2024.”
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