Knee injury delays Chris Froome’s 2022 debut until at least March

The 36-year-old is training following his knee injury but is not yet ready to start his 2022 season.

Photo: ISN/Noa Arnon

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Chris Froome won’t be racing again until at least March.

The four-time Tour de France winner had a delayed start to his season preparation after picking up a knee injury during the off-season. It is the latest in a long line of setbacks for the 36-year-old, who had to pull the plug on his 2021 season due to a bout with Bilharzia.

Israel-Premier Tech DS Rik Verbrugghe told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad that Froome is training again, but that he cannot yet build any intensity into his efforts.

“Chris had to end his season earlier than planned due to Bilharzia last year and tried some other sports in the interim, such as running and swimming, to rebuild. But that resulted in a knee injury. In the meantime, he is cycling again, albeit without any form of intensity,” Verbrugghe told Het Nieuwsblad.

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Froome believes that he was “too keen” when he got back to training at the end of December after spending much of his winter using other activities to keep fit. In a video posted on his YouTube channel in early January, he said that he’d been suffering from pain on the outside of his knee while pedaling.

“Unfortunately, I think just getting back into training these past couple of weeks I might have been a little bit too keen, pushing a little bit too much,” Froome said. “This was after a few weeks off the bike and maybe the body wasn’t ready to push that hard. It’s flared up and caused a bit of inflammation.

“What it means is I’m going to have to take the best part of a week off the bike before starting very gradually. It’s definitely a setback for me. I’m not too sure where I’m going to start the racing year and it’s going to push everything back slightly.”

Froome is expected to attend a training camp with Israel Start-Up Nation in February but that it would be at least mid-March before he would make it to a start line. There has been plans for him to race the Tour du Rwanda at the end of February, followed by Paris-Nice, but that won’t go ahead.

“It makes no sense to make plans about his competition program now. First he has to be one hundred percent fit,” Verbrugghe said.

“He goes on a training camp with the boys to work on his form. We know what needs to be done to get him up to standard and we’re going to do everything we can. But whether Chris is still able to achieve the performances of yesteryear, I no longer dare to answer that.”

Froome has been far from his best ever since a horrific high-speed crash during a recon for the time trial at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné. He returned to the Tour de France last year, though it was as a support rider for Michael Woods, and finished more than four hours down on Tadej Pogačar.

Despite his results, Verbrugghe maintained that Froome was worth more to the team than his more recent performances.

“Chris is a big name. His presence opens doors that would otherwise remain closed. Cycling is also about reputation and prestige. Chris plays a major role in this and is an exemplary figure for young riders within our team,” he said.

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