Chris Froome has admitted that he doesn't know when he will be able to compete for victory again.
The Briton is continuing his comeback from serious injuries at this week's Volta a Catalunya, but despite headlining Israel Start-up Nation's team, he was dropped on the opening stage and finished 90th on stage two's time trial, 2-05 down on former Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Rohan Dennis.
The upbeat and confident Froome has made no secret in declaring his intention to win a record-equalling fifth Tour de France, but asked by Cycling Weekly if that was still a realistic goal he could fulfil this season, he said: "I can't really put any time on it. I am just taking it one week at a time at the moment.
"It's just about following the process and I am not putting a timeline on it.
"Naturally, I would love to be ready for the Tour de France but I have to keep following the process and do what I can."
In his peak years, Froome would peak at numerous points in the year, but this time round the 35-year-old doesn't know when he'll be battling in a race's GC, saying "It's impossible to say.
"I had the time off the bike from the crash and then the lockdown compounded the length and time away from top-level racing.
"It's a long, old process but I am keeping my morale up and cracking on with it."
Asked what specifically he is working on in training and what needs to change to see more positive results, he revealed that getting closer to his old numbers is his principal goal.
"There are a lot of metrics that we are looking for," he added. "Obviously power numbers is one and I am trying to get to previous targets, setting myself goals within the different spaces, like five minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, and getting closer and closer to those goals.
"That's the process on the bike, and away from the bike I am still doing a lot of work there, still making tweaks and adjustments and working on things that aren't as strong as before."
Froome, who is the only British rider to have won all three Grand Tours, spent the winter training in California and has just returned from another altitude camp in Tenerife. He will return to altitude training after the Catalan race, too.
He continued: "Every time I go and do a block of altitude, every time I go and do a race, I've just got to keep following the process and hope that I am going to get to the final destination.
"[The time trial] was good, good to open up the legs a little bit. I am pretty much just trying to get the most out of this race in terms of using this race as preparation for moving things on."
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