There has been much speculation in the last day or two about Chris Froome's future at Ineos, and whether a mid-season transfer to another team is on the cards...
Returning from a potentially career-ending injury last year, the 7-time Grand Tour Champ is out of contract at the end of the 2020 season. So it would be quite normal for any teams to approach Froome and ask the question about a possible transfer. There is a small window in the first two weeks of August where a mid-season transfer could take place within the rules, if all parties agree.
Such transfers are pretty rare in cycling. Rohan Dennis the most high profile rider to change teams from Garmin to BMC Racing back in 2014 (hmm… why doesn’t that surprise us… Ed. ;)
There have been reports of other teams in the peloton enquiring about his plans for the 2021 season, after Froome stating he is still motivated to continue:
"I have no intention of retiring any time soon. If anything, the crash has given me a renewed focus and drive. I have worked harder than I ever have to get back to where I am. I won’t let that be for nothing."
"Following my crash last year and subsequent recovery I am extremely confident that I can return to Tour winning form. Which team that will be with beyond 2020, I don’t know yet,"
Should this be taken as a holding message as negotiations are ongoing, or as a signal that there is something simmering under the surface regarding leadership in the Ineos camp?
Earlier in the week we touched on the challenges that Sir Dave B was going to have with his top-riders and team leaders in the coming seasons.
Froome, a champ, an all-time great, he obviously deserves respect for his achievements, and a place at the table if he chooses it. However Ineos also have GT, a Tour Winner, Olympic Gold-Medalist and Champ in his own right, so he also rightly has a claim.
Then Bernal, arguably the future of the team, 23 years-old, with plenty of time left on his contract, and clearly has a bright future ahead. Throw into the mix Richard Carapaz, young, current Maglia Rosa. There are also a host of other up-and-comers in the ranks at Ineos who will be working towards their leadership chances.
All the teams target the Tour above everything else. With the Giro playing second fiddle, and the Vuelta an afterthought, or a redemption ride if someone crashes out of one of the others. (In our humble opinion, the Vuelta makes for some of the most exciting racing on the calendar).
But who will relinquish their shot at the Yellow Jersey? It seems unlikely any of the leaders and recent Tour Winners will step aside, so will this cause issues in the Ineos ranks? Did Movistar show that 3 ‘leaders’ doesn’t work? Will Dumoulin, Roglic and kruijswijk pull it off at Jumbo Visma?
Although spreading their chances, hedging their bets, and having major GC contenders as ‘super-domestiques, with the teams so heavy at the top, will it in fact weaken the cohesion if the co-leaders all want the overall?
Will this push the talented riders to move to a new team where they can get a guaranteed lead-role? Like Wout Poels, Richie Porte, Mikel Landa…?
We look forward to finding out, and in the meantime we'll widely speculate... :)