Sport Four-time Tour de France champ Chris Froome to leave Team Ineos at season’s end
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Four-time Tour de France champ Chris Froome to leave Team Ineos at season’s end

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Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome will leave cycling’s Team Ineos at the end of the season.

“Chris’s current contract comes to an end in December and we have taken the decision now not to renew it,” general manager Dave Brailsford said on Thursday in a statement.

“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 move ends seven-time Grand Tour winner Froome’s decade-long association with Ineos.

He has been strongly linked with a move to the Israel Start-Up Nation team after his leadership role within Ineos had been challenged by the emergence of Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal.

Froome, winner of the Tour de France in 2013 and 2015 to 2017, suffered career-threatening injuries in a high-speed crash during a recon ride at the Criterium du Dauphine last summer, ruling him out of that year’s Tour.

He only returned to racing in February.

He has made this year’s race his sole target after a gruelling rehabilitation as he aims for a record-equalling fifth Tour crown and, until recently, there had been speculation he might make a rare mid-season move due to the emerging rivalries within the Ineos team.

“It has been a phenomenal decade with the team. We have achieved so much together and I will always treasure the memories,” Froome said.

“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.”

Froome is one win away from matching the record of five victories held jointly by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.