LINTON, England (Reuters) – Four-times Tour de France winner Chris Froome rode his bike into a picturesque Yorkshire village on Wednesday saying it felt like a “new beginning” as Team Sky officially became Team INEOS.
The 33-year-old Briton admits there were concerns rather than panic when broadcaster Sky announced last year it was ending its 10-year financing of a team set up by Dave Brailsford and which helped him become one of the greatest riders in cycling history.
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Yet Britain’s richest man Jim Ratcliffe rode to the rescue with INEOS, the company he founded and has turned into one of the world’s largest chemical producers, taking control with a funding package worth 120 million pounds ($157.19 million) over three years.
Froome said with INEOS’s investment he would be pushing harder for cycling’s biggest prizes, starting with a record-equaling fifth Tour de France later this year.
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“We will be pushing harder and trying to stay at the top,” Froome, donning the team’s new dark red and black kit, told reporters outside the village pub in Linton that doubled as a venue for the official launch of Team INEOS on Wednesday.
“It’s a new beginning and feels strange after 10 years saying Team Sky. It feels new and exciting.
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“I’m working hard to win a fifth Tour de France and if I can do that with INEOS that would be incredible. That’s not been done for two decades.”
This year’s Tour will see both Froome and reigning champion Geraint Thomas vying for the yellow jersey as team mates, but Froome says that will only be a problem for their rivals.
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“It’s more of a concern for them,” said Froome, who won last year’s Giro while under a cloud following an adverse...
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