Chris Froome has criticised the UCI WorldTour relegation system branding it a “death sentence for many teams”.
Speaking to Spanish news outlet MARCA at the recent Tour de France Saitama criterium in Japan, the four-time Tour champion said he was encouraged by his progress on the bike this season in his return from injury, and has vowed to keep working in 2023.
One stumbling block for Froome’s plans could be the fact that his team, Israel-PremierTech, are set to be relegated from the WorldTour. The team finished outside of the top-18 ranked teams at the end of 2022, and did not meet the relevant criteria to stay at the top level of cycling next season.
The team has, however, vowed to take their fight for a WorldTour spot to court.
On the controversial system, Froome said: “Being a three-year system, I think this system is a death sentence for many teams. A lot of structures literally live year after year and if you have to tell a team that you're potentially not going to be in the Tour de France for the next three years, a lot of teams will just close their doors.”
Froome explained that instead of the current setup, he would like to see regulations changed to a one-year system instead.
“Personally, I would love to see this change to a one-year system. If you're relegated, it's kind of a wake-up call to get you back up, but if you miss three years, you could be losing two teams every time that happens,” he added.
Froome also slammed the UCI’s points system due to it being weighted towards second-tier races.
“We won two stages at the Tour de France, but if you look at the points we earned, it’s about the same as two guys finishing in the top-10 in the French Cup,” he said. “That doesn’t add up. The points should be a better way to represent professional cycling.”
Meanwhile the British rider admitted that the 2023 season could well be make or break in his career.
Froome suffered a devastating crash at the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine and has been making gradual progress to return to the shape and form that saw him land four Tour titles. He also recently admitted that the dream of a fifth yellow jersey is still alive.
At the Tour in July, Froome put in an impressive performance which saw him finish third on Alpe d’Huez behind stage winner Tom Pidcock. However, after later contracting Covid-19 which forced him out of the French grand tour, he admitted that plans for the rest of the season were unfortunately derailed.
“I am a person who likes challenges and the process,” he told MARCA. “I am on that road and I am working toward it. I suffered a terrible crash that almost forced me out of cycling and I have managed to come back. Now things are different. This year I was motivated by some of my performances, but for different reasons, I didn’t have the opportunity to truly show where I am at.”
“This season is going to be the year of truth,” Froome said. “To really know where I am.”
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