The four-time winner of the race joined his new team in the off-season with the stated ambition of winning a fifth yellow jersey.
Following a horrific crash before a time trial stage at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné, Froome has impressively returned to the peloton, an admirable achievement given the scale of his injuries.
However, the Briton has struggled for form throughout 2021 and his team have been coy on his participation in the forthcoming Tour.
Canadian Michael Woods was confirmed on Monday as the team’s leader at the Tour, with the 34-year-old targeting stage wins and a high-placing on GC.
Perhaps tellingly, Israel Start-Up Nation delayed announcing the rest of the team who will ride in support of Woods, with speculation growing around Froome’s possible inclusion.
The team have previously confirmed that his contract, worth a reported €5-6m a year, does not state that he is obliged to ride the Tour should he be fit enough, and recently a sports director indicated that August’s Vuelta a España may be a better Grand Tour for Froome to target.
It’s a long way from six months ago when a bullish Froome confidently said “nothing is holding me back” in his goal of winning another yellow jersey.
Since then, the 35-year-old has spent a number of weeks training at altitude but he has yet to see his dedication and effort pay off in races, with television cameras often showing images of him falling out of the back of the peloton.
Froome’s positive persona and upbeat messages have begun to waiver in recent months, with him admitting that he is way off form and conceding that a return to his previous lofty heights may be a step too far.
However supportive and understanding his team are of him, they will no doubt be dissatisfied with the return on their investment so far.
They signed him on a long-term contract, thought to be for three seasons in duration, with Froome saying at the time that he would finish his career with the WorldTour outfit.
Whether or not he will even ride the Tour de France again is an ever-increasing doubt.
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