WATCH the 2020 Tour de France LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on SBS from August 29.
Who’s the leader at Ineos (for me there’s no questions, Egan Bernal, the defending champion)? Is Froome prepared to work for others? Will we see a 2012 Froome-Wiggins rift repeat?
Under normal circumstances the media centre would be “speculation city”.
It’s hard to believe a four-time Tour de France winner is fighting for selection just to make the start line in Nice, on 29 August. Yet that’s exactly where Chris Froome finds himself.
You know that old cliche “you’re only as good as your last result” - well finishing 41st in the recent Tour de l’Ain isn’t Froome’s normal pre-Tour form.
Even the best grand tour rider of his generation has to prove himself… at least to make selection on the team that has won all bar one edition of the Tour since 2012.
It won’t be a problem next year at his new team, Israel Start-Up Nation.
This week’s Criterium du Dauphine is exam time.
There are so many odds stacked against Froome.
That horrific crash, at last year’s Criterium du Dauphine, fracturing his femur. It’s a big injury to come back from.
He’s 35. To win this year’s Tour would make Froome the oldest post World War II winner, a title currently held by Cadel Evans, who won at 34.
So can Froome win this year’s Tour?
Bauke Mollema of Trek-Segafredo doesn’t think so, based on what he’s seen recently.
Ineos has last year’s winner, Egan Bernal, who at just 23 is on a contract that runs to the end of 2023.
Plus they have the 2018 winner, Geraint Thomas, who also finished second last year.
On current form Froome is definitely in Ineos's best eight, but could you take a four-time winner as a domestique?
The team already has a support crew of super domestiques, who won’t be seeking any personal results.
Plus Froome is leaving the team at the end of the season.
Team cohesion is important and all the ingredients are there for rivals to lay seeds of doubt. And across three weeks of racing the tiniest bit of doubt can turn into an enormous rift.
It’s been fascinating watching the debate on ‘will they’ or ‘won’t they’ select him.
On Monday, Froome made his desire to ride clear by tweeting, “Prepping for the TdF means getting into the absolute best shape possible, and this year I’ve been using the @LumenMetabolism tracker to better understand how my body uses the food I eat pre & post workouts.”
The Criterium du Dauphine is five stages with every one of them being a hilltop or mountain top finish. Froome doesn’t have to win but he has to show something near Tour de France contender form on at least one of those stages.
So jot down your answer, would you pick Chris Froome on the Team Ineos Tour de France team today?
Ask yourself the same question on Monday, after the Dauphine. You might have a different answer.
See if Chris Froome can ride himself into Tour de France selection at the Critérium du Dauphiné LIVE from tonight (Wednesday 12 August) at 10.45pm AEST:
Wednesday August 12
LIVE: Cycling: Critérium du Dauphiné STAGE 1
Thursday August 13
LIVE: Cycling: Critérium du Dauphiné STAGE 2
Friday August 14
LIVE: Cycling: Critérium du Dauphiné STAGE 3
Saturday August 15
LIVE: Cycling: Critérium du Dauphiné STAGE 4
Sunday August 16
LIVE: Cycling: Critérium du Dauphiné STAGE 5
For the live TV coverage on SBS VICELAND - all stages will be live to Eastern (NSW / VIC / TAS / QLD) and Central (SA, NT) with the Central coverage crashing half an hour in.
WA will be delayed on SBS VICELAND but viewers can watch LIVE via streaming at SBS On Demand.
Replays will be available shortly after each stage online at SBS On Demand or the Cycling Central website.