Four-time champion Chris Froome has been selected by cycling team Israel Start-Up Nation to race the 2021 Tour de France, where he will act as road captain for team leader Michael Woods. The 36-year-old Froome vowed to claw his way back to the top and targeted a fifth Tour win after suffering multiple injuries when crashing into a wall at high speed in May 2019. He showed astonishing determination and professional focus on his long struggle back, leaving Ineos and joining ISN and constantly ignored the doubters. Froome won the Tour in 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017.
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The 2021 race embarks from the western French region of Brittany on June 26 and the 21 stage event winds up in Paris on July 18.
Froome will have a support role for the Canadian Woods rather than lead a tilt at the title himself, but the Briton had recently checked the extent of his ambition to a desire to be simply back on the roster this season as his form comes back slowly.
On news of the team announcement, he was all pragmatism.
“After two years away from the Tour de France I can’t wait to get back. It has been an arduous journey since my crash, but this has been my biggest motivation,” Froome said.
“I’ve been working tirelessly to get to where I am, and although my ambitions this year won’t be as leader, I hope to add my experience and support to the team as best I can as road captain.”
In cycling, a road captain is someone with racing savvy who acts as a kind of minder for the team leader.
“We have a strong contender in Michael Woods, and I look forward to giving my all for him and the team in the battle to Paris.”
Woods is a former ice-hockey player and middle distance runner who came to cycling late.
While he perhaps lacks a little nous, he has proved himself worthy of a place at cycling’s top table with a series of top five finishes in the one day classics.
ISN sports director Rik Verbrugghe said Woods was ready for the role.
“His success in the Classics, the Tour de Romandie, and the Tour de Suisse gave him – and us – the confidence that he can play the role in the greatest cycling race of all, the Tour,” Verbrugghe said.
Woods said he loved racing in France and had clear goals for the Tour.
“I am honored to be given this position, especially considering the quality of the team we have,” he said.
“My main goals and priorities are clear: stage wins first and try to go high on the general classification.”
The full team has yet to be announced.
RBA/AFP Photos: Bettini
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