Chris Froome has spoken in support of his former teammate Mark Cavendish, backing the "special" sprinter to "make even more history" in 2024, and has again detailed his own bike troubles at Israel-Premier Tech.
It is not just Cavendish who will be targeting the race next season, Froome too asserting his ambition to return having been left out of Israel-Premier Tech's Tour team earlier this season, prompting words between a "let down" Froome and the team's co-owner who said his rider was not "value for money".
Speaking to FloBikes at the Tour of Hainan this weekend, Froome hinted at more technical issues during his time at Israel-Premier Tech, saying he is "really looking forward to seeing where I can get to" having overcome bike position issues and back pain by "finally sitting back in my old position again" and reverting to his Sky/Ineos Pinarello position on his team-issue Factor.
Those comments came at the end of season race where Froome finished 63rd, 34 minutes behind race winner Óscar Sevilla, the 38-year-old insisting he has "no intentions of stopping" and that the Tour would be his "big objective" for 2024.
Commenting on the announcement that his former Team Sky teammate would also be continuing his racing career into next season, Froome backed Cavendish to taste success again.
"It's great," Froome said. "I think he's in a really good place with Astana and it's great to see that they're supporting him in his bid to make even more history [...] Mark's a special character and he's got a special place in the story, the history of the sport."
Responding to the inevitable question about whether Cavendish would win stage win number 35 and break Eddy Merckx's record, Froome replied: "He's done so much already, he doesn't need to do any more, but I believe he will."
Froome, whose dominance at the Tour saw him win four yellow jerseys between 2013 and 2017, has not raced much in the second half of 2023, an appearance at the Czech Tour following the disappointment of being left out of his team's Tour plans the only race before his trip to China.
Following his omission from Israel-Premier Tech's team for the big one, Froome was critical of the decision, saying he felt "let down" and had been bugged by "frustrating" equipment issues.
An outspoken critic of disc brakes in the past, Froome said his "only real chance to show myself" and prove his form ahead of the Tour was hit by mechanical issues with his cranks and handlebars.
Those comments, which came in a YouTube video titled 'I WAS READY FOR THE TOUR' prompted team boss Sylvan Adams to hit out at Froome, saying he was not offering "value for money" and was currently riding like a "pedestrian domestique".
Now, again detailing issues since leaving Ineos, Froome said he has been "struggling" with lower back pain and has only now managed to transfer his old Pinarello position over to his Factor.
"It's definitely been a difficult season for me this year, obviously working hard for the Tour and missing out on that. I had to reset, I've gone back to the drawing board, made a few changes to my bike position," he revealed. "I found that I was quite far off from my previous position in the Sky/Ineos days [...] the biggest thing was I was struggling with my lower back before the Tour. I had a lot of lower back pain on the bike.
"I found the cause of that was how I was sitting on the bike. Somehow changing teams, my position changed somewhat. I am finally sitting back in my old position again and feeling much better for it now, so really looking forward to seeing where I can get to."
Not commenting on the verbal back and forth with his team boss, Froome said he would "certainly" continue and is "still enjoying racing" even if "I'm not winning like I was used to before my crash".
"I'm going to make that [the Tour de France] my focus for next year, is to have a proper build-up in that first part of the season and make that my big objective."
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.