Chris Froome will be leaving Team Ineos the squad have confirmed, as they have decided not to renew his contract.
>> Struggling to get to the shops? Try 6 issues of Cycling Weekly magazine for just £6 delivered to your door <<
Team Ineos principal Sir Dave Brailsford announced that the squad has taken the decision not to renew Froome’s contract as he is keen to remain sole leader of a team, a guarantee the British WorldTour outfit cannot offer.
Brailsford said “Chris’s current contract comes to an end in December and we have taken the decision now not to renew it. We are making this announcement earlier than would usually be the case to put an end to recent speculation and allow the team to focus on the season ahead.”
The announcement comes after weeks of rumours that Froome was considering changing teams, with Israel Start-Up Nation consistently the hot favourite to sign the seven-time Grand Tour winner.
Froome is chasing a record-equalling fifth Tour de France victory, but was hit by a huge setback when he suffered an awful leg-break in a crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné last year.
During his recovery, Egan Bernal proved himself the rising star within Team Ineos by winning the 2019 Tour de France at just 22 years old.
Team Ineos currently boasts three Tour de France winners in Froome, Bernal and 2018 winner Geraint Thomas, with the team eager to bank their future on Bernal.
But Froome wants sole leadership of a team, according to Brailsford, in pursuit of his fifth Tour victory.
Brailsford added: “Chris has been with us from the start. He is a great champion and we have shared many memorable moments over the years but I do believe this is the right decision for the team and for Chris. Given his achievements in the sport, Chris is understandably keen to have sole team leadership in the next chapter of his career – which is not something we are able to guarantee him at this point.”
He added: “A move away from Team Ineos can give him that certainty. At the same time, it will also give other members of our Team the leadership opportunities they too have earned and are rightly seeking. I am excited about the talent we have right across the Team at the current time and all our collective focus is on preparing for the season ahead. Like everyone across the sport we are all looking forward to the start of racing next month.”
Froome has been with Team Ineos, formerly Team Sky, since their inception in 2010 and has dominated Grand Tour racing in recent years.
After supporting Sir Bradley Wiggins to becoming the first British Tour de France winner in 2012, Froome won his first yellow jersey the following year.
Last summer, Froome was crowned winner of the 2011 Vuelta after the initial victor, Juan José Cobo, was stripped for doping, taking Froome’s Grand Tour tally to seven.
As part of the contract announcement, Froome said: “It has been a phenomenal decade with the Team, we have achieved so much together and I will always treasure the memories. I look forward to exciting new challenges as I move into the next phase of my career but in the meantime my focus is on winning a fifth Tour de France with Team Ineos.”