As the most successful Tour de France rider of the 21st century, Chris Froome’s absence from the most high-profile event in cycling in three of the past four years must have been especially painful.
Since the crash that threatened Froome’s career at the Criterium du Dauphine in June 2019, the British great has endured a long road back to competition, including a return to the Tour de France in 2021.
Froome crashed on that Tour and was briefly hospitalised, then ended as one of the slowest finishers, trailing champion Tadej Pogacar by more than four hours.
Will Froome be back for the Tour when it begins in Copenhagen on July 1? Find out whether the four-time winner will be on the starting line.
Will Chris Froome take part in the 2022 Tour de France?
Despite the premature end to his Criterium du Dauphine campaign this year, it would be hard to argue that the team Froome joined in 2021 has eight better riders to take part in the Tour de France 2022.
At 37, Froome himself hopes he has several years left in the sport, taking inspiration from the longevity that has allowed NFL superstar Tom Brady to continue competing well into his 40s.
While he might not be expected to challenge the likes of Pogacar, the glimpse of a return to form Froome showed at the Mercan’Tour Classic Alpes-Maritimes will have galvanised the reliably upbeat character.
Froome’s reported salary of €5.5 million (£4.7m/$5.8) makes him the highest-paid cyclist in the world, and he remains a huge draw for the media and viewers. Barring any fresh fitness concerns, it looks certain that fans can look forward to watching the only active competitor within sight of the record of five Tour de France titles.
What is Chris Froome’s recent form?
Froome took part in the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali in March and the Tour of the Alps a month later, failing to make significant headway as he returned to action after knee tendon inflammation.
A 65th-placed finish at the Tour de Romandie at the start of May preceded his best result since 2019, when he claimed 11th place at the 2022 Mercan’Tour Classic Alpes-Maritimes.
There have been concerns, though, after Froome pulled out before the penultimate stage of the Criterium du Dauphine, which had seen him in 76th position.
“It’s disappointing to leave the race unfinished,” said Froome, explaining that he had been feeling unwell for two days.
“But I’ve been progressing well and don’t want to set myself back at this important stage of the season.”
How has Chris Froome performed at the Tour de France?
After finishing second to Sky teammate Bradley Wiggins in his second Tour de France in 2012, Froome went one better by taking the title for the first time in 2013.
A short and punishing defence of his crown ended with Froome crashing out on stage five of the Tour the following year, but he returned to become champion again in 2015, earning a CBE honour in his homeland the following January.
In 2016, Froome became the first ever Briton to win a hat-trick of Tour de France titles and claimed his second successive Olympic Games bronze medal.
Even though he had not won a race that year beforehand, Froome started as the 2017 favourite and beat Rigoberto Uran by 54 seconds overall to become the man with the second-most wins of all time outright.
Froome finished third in 2018, helping teammate Geraint Thomas to become champion in his final appearance before missing two editions through the horrendous injury he sustained the following year.