Cycling: Chris Froome to leave Team Ineos at the end of the season

Team Ineos' Chris Froome before a race in Dubai, on Feb 23, 2020.
Team Ineos' Chris Froome before a race in Dubai, on Feb 23, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS, AFP) - Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome will leave Team Ineos at the end of the season, the team said in a statement on Thursday (July 9).

"Chris' 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," general manager Dave Brailsford said.

Froome, who won the Tour in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, is one win away from matching the record of five victories held jointly by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain. He suffered a horrible accident last year and returned to racing in February,

The 35-year-old said: “It has been a phenomenal decade with the team (previously Team Sky). 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.”

According to the BBC, he will join Israel Start-Up Nation from next season who will focus on him as sole team leader.

A reason for Froome's departure was said to be because of his increasing unease at having to battle another two riders at Team Ineos for the Tour's famous yellow jersey - 2018 winner Geraint Thomas and last year's victor Egan Bernal.

Brailsford added: "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.

"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."