Chris Froome will end his time at Team INEOS after the Veulta España.
What a stint it’s been four Tour de France titles, one Giro d’Italia and 2 Veulta España titles already to his name. Froome was expected to take further steps to greatness and clinch a fifth Tour de France title in 2019, before suffering multiple broken bones in a near career ending crash at the Criterium du Dauphine.
Just as Chris Froome was returning to racing the COVID-19 Pandemic meant that he had to halt his preparations, leaving Egan Bernal to lead Le Tour, before pulling out due to a back injury and Geraint Thomas to lead the Giro, after fracturing his hip in the neutral zone of stage 4.
Froome will head to the Veulta unsure of his form and in support of 2020 Tour de France King of the Mountains jersey wearer and 2019 Giro d’Italia winner, Richard Carapaz.
Carapaz joined INEOS at the start of the year after he impressed with Movistar at the Giro and took the title, it was clear to see his climbing prowess and ability to ride a three week Grand Tour.
Froome said: “We’ve got a great team here to support Richard as much as possible. I’m going to take it one day at a time, and hopefully finish the Vuelta on a high note. For me personally, I am going to take these first few days to see where I am in the bunch.”
Froome added: “I think it’s quite hard to say where I am at the moment given that I haven’t done many stage races recently.
“Signs in training have gotten better and better, and I am feeling more like myself again, which is fantastic. It’s hard to quantify that when I haven’t been able to race against rivals. After the first few stages, I will be able to have a more clear plan for the rest of the race, and know what kind of job I can fulfil at that point.”
Carapaz rode with style to take the KOM Jersey, gaining as much as 15 minutes on one stage as he came to life with the withdrawal of Egan Bernal. Carapaz then went on to ride a fantastic stage 18 after a day in the break with INEOS team mate Michal Kwiatkowski, who took the stage victory and Carapaz the polka dot jersey. Carapaz eventually lost the jersey to eventual winner Tadej Pogačar.
Carapaz said: “I’m in good shape, and feeling really motivated to go for it. I think I can be up there in the fight for the Vuelta, we’ve got a very strong team and we’re keen to get into it.”