Chris Froome said retiring after his 2019 crash “would have been the easier option,” but added it wasn’t the way he wanted to finish his cycling career.
The Grand Tour star is embarking on the 2021 season with a new team, Israel Start-Up Nation, as he aims to return to his previous best following his serious injuries suffered in the Critérium du Dauphiné two years ago.
Froome, who is currently training in California, has signed with the Israeli WorldTour team after a decade of dominance with Ineos Grenadiers, and says his racing programme will be designed to help him build towards the Tour de France this year.
Speaking during an Israel Start-Up Nation press conference, held virtually, the 35-year-old said: “[Retiring] certainly would have been the easier option, but not the way I wanted to finish my cycling career.
“One really big motivation for me was knowing that sitting on four Tour de France titles – I don’t feel as if I’m done yet.
“I’d like to get to number five. I’d like to keep racing Grand Tours, targeting them until I’m ready to retire from the sport on my own terms. The prospect of being basically put out by a crash didn’t sit well with me, so as soon as I found out I was able to make a full recovery – there’s nothing physically that should hold me back – then that was a simple decision for me to make.”
Froome is continuing his rehabilitation in the US, working with the Red Bull High Performance Centre on strength sessions while also training on the bike.
The four-time Tour de France winner said he will soon move away from the strength training as the 2021 season gets underway.
Froome didn’t want to share his racing programme for the new season, saying it was not yet set in stone due to the coronavirus crisis, but he did say the schedule would be designed to help him prepare for this year’s Tour.
He said: “I think the most important thing for me at this moment has been to try and get myself physically back to previous levels.
“One of the biggest keys to that has been getting my rehab back on track. I think it wasn’t quite completed last year as I’d hoped.
“But I’ve had the chance, being over here in California, to work really closely with the Red Bull High Performance Center.
“They’ve been fantastic in supporting me and I’ve been in there doing sessions three or four times a week – quite heavy, quite lengthy sessions.
“I feel as if I’m certainly much closer to where I need to be starting the season this time around than I was last year.”