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The four-time Tour de France winner finished 11th in the French one-day race last week, but most importantly was still present until the slopes of the final climb of the race. It was Froome’s best racing performance on the road since his career-threatening crash at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné.
Since then he has battled through a lengthy physical recovery, while his 2021 season was wrecked by persistent injuries, crashes and illness. He was forced to hold back at the start of this year too due to a knee injury but after a slow start he has finally shown signs of improvement.
Froome returns Sunday with his morale on the rise.
“It’s great to be back at the Critérium du Dauphiné,” Froome said Friday. “I have some great memories from this race, with six stage wins and overall victories in ‘13, ‘15 and ‘16. Unfortunately, I’ve also had my fair share of bad ones with my big crash in 2019 and I’m hoping to finally put that behind me this year.
“I’ve seen some big progressions in my form over the last two months, and I hope to continue to build on it to put myself in the best possible position for July. I had a good ride earlier this week at the Mercan’Tour Classic, and I look forward to carrying that momentum forward into the Dauphiné.”
Froome will share leadership with Simon Clarke, who joined the team over the winter.
The team’s cited aim is to target stage wins with the entire squad pointed in that direction but Froome will no doubt be looking to test his GC credentials with the Tour de France roughly a month away.
The 37-year-old will face off against a number of Tour de France contenders including Promiž Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers), Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) and Enric Mas (Movistar).
“Simon has been one of our top performers this year and he’ll have some stages marked that suit him,” said sports director Steve Bauer.
“Chris is now feeling much better after his long come back. His fitness is good and we are excited to see Chris racing much better. All in all, we have solid group of riders here and we will challenge daily to see if we can get a stage win, which will be our primary goal for the race.
“I’m excited for this year’s Dauphiné. This is always a fabulous stage race where all the WorldTour teams test their best riders heading to the Tour de France,” Bauer said. “After a very tough spring campaign for us, our team is now in good shape and we are definitely looking forward to a competitive race. We know our work is cut out for us, as some of the top teams will bring their A-squads for the Tour de France here, but I’m sure that our guys are ready for the challenge.”
Israel-Premier Tech for the Critérium du Dauphiné: Simon Clarke, Chris Froome, Omer Goldstein, Taj Jones, Guy Niv, James Piccoli, Guy Sagiv.