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Cobblestone victory for Simon Clarke and a bounceback ride to third for team talisman Chris Froome on the Alpe d’Huez sees the team accomplishing its mission of winning a Tour stage and putting Froome back in the frame.
“Chris is one of our stars on the team, it’s big for us for sure. We think there could be more to come from Chris – and the team – not just in this Tour, but also for the rest of the season,” sport director Nicki Sørensen told VeloNews.
A ride to third on the infamous 21 bends of Alpe d’Huez won’t be the standout result in Froome’s grand tour-crushing palmarès in 20 years’ time.
But after not hitting a solo top-3 since he finished third behind Ineos teammate Geraint Thomas in the 2018 Tour, it sure is something for both the Froome and the team that backed him through a recovery process that some thought may never be realized.
“Chris was just relieved, and it was a very positive experience for him. He’s proud of the result,” Sørensen said Friday.
“Him being in the break and fighting for the win as not only be a big result, but a huge thing for a cycling star like him, to be up there fighting in the final. And it’s a lot of good attention for Chris.”
Israel-Premier Tech long poured its focus into winning a stage of the Tour de France. With that mission accomplished on stage 5 into the Arenberg, Sørensen is convinced there’s more to come.
Clarke, Froome, Michael Woods, and Jakob Fuglsang give the teams options across all terrain as the Tour transitions from the Alps to the Pyrénées in coming days.
“We’ve just got to keep trying, we’re aiming a lot for stages and breakaways so that’s what we’ll keep doing, and we’ll give it a shot every day,” Sørensen said. “When we find ourselves in the right situation when they’re going for the win, we’ve just got to go for it.”
— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) July 14, 2022
Tour de France stage victory and a further trip to the podium mean much more to Israel-Premier Tech than short-term stoke.
Short on WorldTour points, the team is locked deep in the battle for survival in this crucial relegation season.
“We’re focussed here on this race and going for hopefully one more stage win. Relegation is not something we’re thinking about right now,” Sørensen said of his squad’s fight to stay in the WorldTour.
“It’s a thing that all teams in the relegation ‘zone’ are thinking about but I’m not going to comment much more on it. We’d rather focus on the positive of going for stage wins and good results.”