Seven-time Grand Tour winner Chris Froome will leave Team Ineos at the end of the season to bring an end to a decade-long association with Sir Dave Brailsford’s team.
The four-time Tour de France winner is set to join the Israel Start-Up Nation squad for next season after seeing his leadership role within what was Team Sky challenged by the emergence of both Geraint Thomas and the young Egan Bernal, who have won the past two editions of the Tour between them.
“Given his achievements in the sport, Chris is understandably keen to have sole team leadership in the next chapter of his career – which is not something we are able to guarantee him at this point,” Brailsford said. “A move away from Team Ineos can give him that certainty.”
Team INEOS confirms we will not be renewing @chrisfroome’s contract – so after 10 great years this season will be Chris’s last with the team.
— Team INEOS (@TeamINEOS) July 9, 2020
Froome has fought his way back from career-threatening injuries suffered in a high-speed crash last summer, determined to win what would be a record-equalling fifth Tour title, but tensions over team leadership had led to weeks of speculation over his future and suggestions he could leave mid-season.
Instead, the 35-year-old will see out the campaign with Ineos and plans to be on the start-line of the re-arranged Tour, which is due to begin in Nice on August 29.
“It has been a phenomenal decade with the team, we have achieved so much together and I will always treasure the memories,” Froome said.
“I look forward to exciting new challenges as I move into the next phase of my career but in the meantime my focus is on winning a fifth Tour de France with Team Ineos.”
With Thomas and Bernal also due to be in the team, there should be a fascinating battle for dominance within the team that has won seven out of the past eight Tours.
“It will also give other members of our Team the leadership opportunities they too have earned and are rightly seeking,” Brailsford said of Froome’s exit.
“I am excited about the talent we have right across the Team at the current time and all our collective focus is on preparing for the season ahead. Like everyone across the sport we are all looking forward to the start of racing next month.”
Israel Start-Up Nation – home to Irish rider Dan Martin and British time trial champion Alex Dowsett – have declined to comment on Froome’s situation, but are understood to have agreed a multi-year deal.
Froome joined Team Sky for their inaugural season in 2010, developing from a somewhat awkward domestique into the finest Grand Tour rider of his generation.
He was second on the podium when Sir Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour in 2012, with many feeling he could have beaten Wiggins given the freedom to race his team-mate, and went on to take the top step himself in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, having crashed out in 2014.
Froome completed a Tour-Vuelta a Espana double in 2017, and then held all three Grand Tour titles at the same time when he followed up with a dramatic victory at the Giro d’Italia in 2018.
His seventh Grand Tour title was announced while he was still in a hospital bed last summer as he was retrospectively awarded the 2011 Vuelta crown due to a positive drugs test for Juan Jose Cobo.
But with Thomas beating Froome in the 2018 Tour, and the 23-year-old Bernal then claiming victory last year, Froome had seen his undisputed leadership within Ineos eroded.