Chris Froome’s departure from Ineos at the end of the season won’t affect his status for the upcoming Tour de France, a sports director on the team has said.
Servais Knaven has reaffirmed the ‘let the road decide’ mantra of the British squad, and that the decision of Froome to leave Ineos for Israel Start-Up Nation will have no bearing on his inclusion or role in the French Grand Tour.
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“During the Tour there will be questions as to whether the fact that Chris is leaving affects his status in the team, but I see no reason why his position would be different now,” Knaven told NU.nl. “We want to win the Tour. And if Chris is the best, he wins. That he will leave us after this year really makes no difference.”
Despite the transfer window officially opening on August 1, and any deal with Israel Start-Up Nation not permitted to be signed until that date, Ineos announced Froome’s departure early to avoid the distraction ahead of the resumption of the racing calendar and build-up to the Tour.
“I think it is especially important that there is clarity on the outside,” Knaven added. “All questions about Chris’s future have now been answered, so we don’t have to talk about that anymore and we will no longer be distracted in the run-up to and during the Tour.”
Despite reports of disquiet within the Ineos camp in recent months, particularly over Bernal saying he didn’t want to waste an opportunity to win the Tour by riding in support of Froome or Geraint Thomas, both Bernal and Knaven have discredited reports of unrest between squad members.
“We always had a little laugh when we saw those stories in the media, I think that was never discussed internally,” Knaven said. “I don’t think anyone would have wanted that either.”
“[Froome] wasn’t upset,” Bernal said last week in an interview with Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.
“We spoke at the time. Froome’s comments came out and people thought he was angry at me, but he wasn’t. He never got mad at me for what I said.”