By Ian Parker, PA
Chris Froome has set his sights on racing the Vuelta a Espana next month after being forced out of the Tour de France due to a positive test for Covid-19.
The four-time Tour winner was one of three riders unable to start Thursday’s stage 18 from Lourdes to Hautacam due to the virus, with Imanol Erviti and Damiano Caruso also testing positive.
For Froome, it was a premature end to a Tour which saw him achieve his best result in any event since his devastating crash in 2019 as he was third on last week’s stage 12 to Alpe d’Huez, when fellow Brit Tom Pidcock took the win.
— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) July 21, 2022
Froome’s Israel-Premier Tech squad also celebrated their first ever Tour stage victories with Simon Clarke winning stage five to Arenberg and Hugo Houle taking an emotional win in Foix on Tuesday. Clarke also had to leave the race due to a positive test for Covid-19.
In a video message, Froome said he was sorry he would miss the team’s celebrations in Paris this weekend as he laid out his goals for a quick return, with the Vuelta due to start in Utrecht on August 19.
“I’m really disappointed not to be able to roll into Paris and finish off this Tour de France,” Froome said. “It’s been an extremely special race for us as a team and for me personally as well as I’ve been finding my legs again.
“I want to thank everyone for all the support through this process. I’m going to head home now, switch off for a few days and refocus on being ready for the Vuelta a Espana later this season.”
After Wednesday’s stage to Peyragudes, Froome was 26th in the general classification, one hour and 27 minutes behind Jonas Vingegaard in the yellow jersey.