Following rumours that Chris Froome could be considering leaving Ineos as soon as this summer, Spanish media is reporting Movistar are one of the two teams currently talking to the four-time Tour de France champion.
With Froome’s contract up at the end of the year, Cycling News revealed the 34-year-old could be considering bringing an end to his 11-year stint with Ineos, formerly Team Sky, with whom he has won four Tour titles.
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As Froome seeks what would be a record-equalling fifth victory, competition for leadership at this year’s Tour de France is tougher than ever. Recovery from his horror crash at last year’s Dauphiné aside, reigning champion Egan Bernal has insisted he doesn’t see himself riding for others in the team if he’s on top form, while Geraint Thomas previously bested Froome to take yellow in 2018, following up with a second-place finish behind Bernal in 2019.
Two teams have apparently approached Froome about either a mid-season or end-of-season transfer, with all parties needing to agree if a deal were to go through this summer, which would see Froome receive top billing in a WorldTour team for the Tour de France with full support from the whole squad.
Froome and Ineos have remain tight-lipped about the situation, yet Cico21 report that Movistar are one of the two teams to have approached Froome about acquiring his services.
Movistar are sponsored by Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica, who recently merged their UK operations with Liberty Global, the owner of Virgin, and the joint venture is set to invest £10 billion in the UK over the next five years.
This could provide the financial heft to sign the most decorated Grand Tour rider of the past decade, who would provide commercial opportunities to increase brand awareness in their new market.
Team boss Eusebio Unzué has previously indicated that Movistar are one of the more financially secure squads in the WorldTour, and last season parted with a number of top riders, including Nairo Quintana, Mikel Landa, Richard Carapaz and Andrey Amador. In the team’s Netflix documentary, team staff also indicated they had the money to re-sign Richard Carapaz before the Giro d’Italia winner opted to transfer to Ineos.
Movistar rider Jose Joaquin Rojas fanned the flames of these rumours, tweeting: “Friend [Froome], you know that in Spain we have great food and you will have great support.”
Froome turns 35 on May 20 and has said he is not considering retiring any time soon, having just come back from an injury that saw him miss the 2019 Tour.
Froome is determined to not only equal the record of five Tour de France wins, held by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, but surpass them, telling L’Equipe last month: “My dream, when I retire, would be to have won more Tours de France than anyone else. It would be the perfect scenario, but I know there is still a lot of work to make it come true.”