Chris Froome has revealed that a 20% strength deficit in his right quad – which was only discovered after he left Ineos – and an “inexplicable pain” from a surgical screw were factors in his disappointing comeback season.
The 35-year-old struggled on his return from a horrific training crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2019, missing selection for the Tour de France last year and finishing 98th at the Vuelta a España. But Froome remains confident he can return to his best with Israel Start-Up Nation after focusing on getting stronger during the winter.
“The biggest learnings towards the end of last year were actually from doing some isokinetic testing and figuring out that I was still sitting with about a 20% deficit in quad strength on the right-hand side,” Froome said. “Basically, it meant the rehab process wasn’t 100% completed. We are doing two-hour sessions, three or four times a week, and focusing on really building muscle mass and strength on the leg that was injured.”
Froome said he also felt better after having two screws removed in the off‑season after feeling a pain deep in his quad “that didn’t make sense”, adding: “It wasn’t coming from the insertion of the muscle. It was this inexplainable pain. I went to have some scans done straight after the Vuelta and we found that one of the screws was actually piercing through the bone and potentially causing a bit of a grating sensation on the muscle as I was cycling.”
The seven-times Grand Tour winner has spent the winter continuing his rehabilitation at the Red Bull High Performance Center in Santa Monica, missing the pre-season training camp of his new team which is taking place this week near Girona. But he insisted he was still on track to become the oldest winner of the Tour since Firmin Lambot in 1922.
“In a way I see this as the biggest challenge I’ve come up against in my in my career. Not only am I coming back from the injury but also I spent two years away from the Tour de France. And I’m up against a lot of new faces who I haven’t got experience racing against – guys like Tadej Pogacar, guys like my former teammates, who I haven’t got experience racing against.
“But age is a state of mind. I feel relatively young in cycling years. I got into the sport a little bit later. The way nutrition has evolved and the sport has evolved, it’s certainly possible for athletes to go later and later.
“You look at a rider like Alejandro Valverde who is 40 and still racing Grand Tours and is still up there competing with the best in the world. It’s certainly possible and I’d like to prove that as well.”