Chris Froome gets his best result since 2019 Dauphiné crash
11th after a big day of climbing shows a glimmer of hope for the four-time Tour champion.
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There were small signs that Chris Froome’s form could be improving as he finished 11th in the Mercan’Tour Classic Alpes Maritimes, a one-day race in the French Alps with over 4,000 metres of elevation. In total it was also a good day out for his Israel – Premier Tech squad as teammates Jakob Fuglsang and Michael Woods finished in first and second respectively.
The eleventh spot in this Coupe de France, or French Cycling Cup race, is the best result for Froome since his 2019 Criterium du Dauphiné crash. Before today, his best result in the past three years had been 22nd in stage 4 of the 2021 UAE Tour.
“Personally, I’ve seen a big progression these last couple of months,” Froome told Eurosport/GCN after the race. “I’ve just come off a training camp now and the legs are feeling good.”
“Next up will be the Criterium du Dauphiné. I’m just taking it one week at a time. [I am] just trying to focus on building the feelings and momentum and trying to get back to my old self again. I’m not there but I’m definitely one step closer.”
During the one-day race, Froome was part of an elite first group of 14 riders after two of the three big climbs in the Alps above Nice. By then the likes of Warren Barguil had already been dropped under the furious pace set by Groupama-FDJ’s 18-year-old Lenny Martinez, son of Olympic and world mountain bike champion Miguel Martinez.
On the final 12-kilometre-long climb up to the ski station of Valberg, Froome was the first of the group to be dropped but he steadily kept his own pace and passed Gregor Mühlberger, Geoffrey Bouchard and Thibaut Pinot to end up in eleventh place on the day.
Israel – Premier Tech had a good day out in the south of France. Jakob Fuglsang got his first victory since Il Lombardia in 2020 and Michael Woods came in second, valuable UCI points for a team currently fighting in the WorldTour relegation battle.