Dave Brailsford says his relationship with Chris Froome is “as good as ever” despite the four-time champion being left out of Ineos’ Tour de France team before he leaves for Israel Start-Up Nation at the end of the season.
The British WorldTour squad’s boss says everything was done to try and get Froome up to speed for the French Grand Tour, where the 35-year-old seeks a record-equalling fifth yellow jersey, but that the delayed three-week stage race still came too early.
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“We looked at everything we can do to support his training programme and our relationship is as good as ever,” Brailsford told the BBC.
“We have a professional relationship and a personal relationship, and on both fronts, we are absolutely fine.
“Chris had a horrific accident last year and he has done amazingly well to come back and be able to compete at the highest end of professional cycling.”
Froome is one of two previous winners Ineos will be leaving at home this September, with Geraint Thomas also not showing Tour-winning form at the recent Critérium du Dauphiné, and instead giving him leadership for the Giro d’Italia, while Froome will head to the Vuelta a España.
“Geraint has already won the Tour de France but we want to get the Tour of Italy under his belt to join up with his yellow jersey,” Brailsford explained. “So we have reallocated our resources and we feel like we have all of the big races covered this year.”
Instead, Brailsford will back defending champion Egan Bernal to retain his title, having shown good form before pulling out of the Dauphiné as a precaution, citing a back injury.
The Colombian will be supported by another South American, Giro d’Italia winner Richard Carapaz, the Ecuadorian recently taking his first win for Ineos at the Tour of Poland and now providing a solid back-up should Bernal falter in France.