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“My dream, when I retire, is to win more Tours than anyone,” Froome said Monday. “It would be the perfect scenario, but I know that there is still a lot of work to make it come true. We will see in the coming years.”
First things first: Froome is pinning all his hopes on taking a record-equalling fifth yellow jersey this year, a feat that would see him level with Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, and Miguel Indurain.
Froome started the season with a quiet performance at the UAE Tour this February, his first race since crashing at the Criterium du Dauphine last June and picking up a shopping list of broken bones. Despite yo-yo-ing off the back of the peloton during some key moments in the Emirates, Froome insists he is now on track for challenging at the Tour.
“If I compare it to previous seasons and see where I was in April last year, I would say that I am in a similar situation, so it is very encouraging for me,” Froome told L’Equipe. “I think I will be 100 percent on the Tour — and yes, of course, winning is my main goal.”
The coronavirus racing-stop has been a blessing in disguise for Froome as he looks to play catch up on his grand tour rivals. Equipped with a home pain-cave brimming with indoor training gear and weights, Froome has been putting himself through 30-plus hour training weeks that Ineos boss David Brailsford described as “insane” earlier this month.
“From a very personal point of view, it is an advantage to have more time to prepare for the Tour, to return from injury, but it is not something that I celebrate, with all the difficulties that people have to face now from one point from a health point of view, but also economical,” Froome said.
Last year’s crash, which saw Froome sidelined for eight months and undergo a series of surgeries, gave the 34-year-old a scare that rejuvenated his ambitions having placed third at his last Tour appearance in 2018, helping Ineos teammate Geraint Thomas take the victory.
Froome revealed that he thought his career was over in the period after his crash in France, however, on being told he would be able to fully recover, “this thought disappeared… It was extremely motivating for me.” He described the long convalescence that followed, during which he had to watch from the sidelines as Colombian teammate Egan Bernal took the 2019 Tour, as a period of reflection that left him feeling “rejuvenated, with many new motivations.”
Entering the record books with a fifth yellow jersey is front and center for Froome in 2020. The shocking death of Ineos Sport Director Nicolas Portal in early March added further fuel to that fire.
“It was horrible, I never would have expected that,” Froome said. “I spoke to him the day before on the phone, I couldn’t believe it. From my point of view, he is irreplaceable, nobody can take his place. I would like to win another Tour de France for him.”