Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome will leave Team Ineos at the end of the season, it was announced on Thursday.
Froome, Britain’s most successful rider, won the Tour de France four times in five years from 2013 in the colours of Team Sky, which last year became Team Ineos. Team Ineos boss Dave Brailsford hailed 35-year-old Froome as a “great champion” but said it was the right time to part ways.
He said Froome was keen to have sole team leadership but Team Ineos, with fellow Tour de France winners Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal in their ranks, were unable to give that guarantee.
“Chris’s current contract comes to an end in December and we have taken the decision now not to renew it,” Brailsford said.
“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.”
Kenya-born Froome said: “It has been a phenomenal decade with the team. 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.”
Serious injury After winning the Vuelta a Espana in 2017 and the Giro d’Italia in 2018 Froome held all three Grand Tours but his star has since waned.
He was seriously injured when he crashed at the Criterium de Dauphine in June 2019 and spent months in rehabilitation, missing that year’s Tour de France.
Froome’s teammate Thomas emerged as the 2018 winner of the Tour while Colombian protege Bernal claimed the 2019 title.
He only returned fully to the saddle in February this year at the UAE Tour, which was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this year, Froome said his hunger for a fifth or even sixth Tour de France victory remained undiminished.
“My dream is to retire having won more Tour de Frances than any other rider,” he told French daily L’Equipe.
He needs one more to equal Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, who have all won it five times.
This year’s Tour, postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, is set to be raced from August 29 to September 20.
Froome is set to join Israel Start-Up Nation team next season.