Cycling: Let's get better before thinking about leadership, says Froome

PARIS (Reuters) - Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome is likely to face fierce competition within Team Ineos next year, but the Briton is focusing on getting back to his best before thinking about 2020.

FILE PHOTO: Cyclist Chris Froome attends a news conference to unveil the itinerary of the 2019 Tour de France cycling race in Paris, France, October 25, 2018. The world's greatest cycling event will start from Brussels on July 6 and will finish on the Champs Elysees in Paris on July 28. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Froome missed this year’s Tour after sustaining multiple injuries in a horror crash in the Criterium du Dauphine in June.

His team mate Egan Bernal seized the opportunity to win his maiden Tour de France ahead of defending champion Geraint Thomas, making it five in a row for Ineos, formerly Team Sky.

Who will lead the British outfit for next year’s Tour, which will start on June 27 in Nice, is anyone’s guess but Froome would not be drawn into discussing the number one status.

“We’ve got an amazing lineup, an amazing roster of riders to select from, but nothing is decided yet,” Froome, who won his last title in 2017, told reporters.

“For me personally I have obviously to get myself back to that level before even discussing leadership or anything like that.

“At least for now everything is going in the right direction, I’m optimistic.”

Froome walks with a limp but a plate ‘soon to be removed’ from his hip should help him ‘improve faster’ and be ready for ‘the hardest route I have seen in five or six years’.

Living in Monaco, he trains on the roads where the first two stages will take place around Nice, a home advantage he and his team will hope to bank on.

“Starting on roads I’m so familiar with is fantastic for us and the team, we look forward to being there,” he said.

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge