Chris Froome plans cycling academy in Kenya but first wants to 'finish off' career with Tour de France fireworks

Four-time Tour de France winner convinced East Africa is potential hotbed for cycling talent, outlines plans to go 'back to old-school' in 2024

Clock12:43, Tuesday 5th December 2023
Chris Froome raced only 39 days in 2023, but will likely be seen at more stage races in 2024

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Chris Froome raced only 39 days in 2023, but will likely be seen at more stage races in 2024

Speaking publicly for the first time about what his post-racing career may hold for him, Israel-Premier Tech's Chris Froome has revealed plans for a cycling academy to be started in his name in his birth country of Kenya.

The 38-year-old disclosed the idea to his friend and former teammate, Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), on the Welshman's Geraint Thomas Cycling Club Podcast.

"It has always been at the back of my mind wanting to do it, and I think now as I get towards the end of my career, it's the perfect time to start setting things up," said Froome. "Basically [we're] looking at starting a Chris Froome Cycling Academy out in Kenya at the base of Mount Kenya, up at altitude at 2,000m."

Although he holds a British passport and an Olympic bronze medal from his time racing for Team GB, Froome was born in Kenya's capital city of Nairobi and explained that his experiences as a child at the Banda School left a lasting impact on him, which has given him the desire to promote cycling in East Africa.

"I used to run cross-country back there and any time we did inter-school cross-country or anything, I'd just get killed by the Kenyans. They are obviously the best long-distance runners in the world. There was always a part of me all those years I was winning the Tour that kind of made me feel a little bit ridiculous, inadequate knowing that there are much better athletes - in the true sense of an endurance athlete - much better athletes than me back in East Africa.

"But they just haven't had access to bikes, cycling doesn't really exist there. They have no equipment, no training, no structure at all."

Froome is not alone in identifying East Africa as home to masses of untapped talent. In fact, his old team, Ineos Grenadiers, announced their own plans in 2022 to launch a cycling academy in Kenya alongside double Olympic running champion (and Ineos athlete), Eliud Kipchoge.

Additionally, Team Amani is a project and cycling team based in Kenya's Rift Valley which seeks to champion the area's future sporting stars, with EF Education-EasyPost's Lachlan Morton recently attending the team's training camp ahead of 2024.

In conversation with Thomas, Froome mentioned both projects and saw the movement as a positive initiative for East Africa, which the four-time Tour de France winner believes could be home to the sport's next great champions.

"I genuinely think that within a 10-15 year time frame, we could see similar to how Colombians have burst onto the scene in the last decade," posited Froome. "I truly believe we're going to get a load of East Africans bursting through."

Colombia has of course given rise to some of cycling's most entertaining champions over the past couple of decades, including Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España winner Nairo Quintana (soon-to-be Movistar), Monument winner Esteban Chaves (EF Education-EasyPost) and 2019 Tour de France champion, Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers).

Should Froome's possible cycling academy have the desired effect, perhaps it may unearth Africa's first Tour de France champion, but for the time being, it is Froome himself who has all eyes set on a return to the race he once made his own next summer.

Froome targets the breakaways and a stage win at the Tour de France

Froome missed out on selection for the Tour de France this year following a disappointing early-season campaign, but his ambitions to return to road cycling's biggest race has not waned in the slightest - with the 38-year-old insistent to Thomas that the Tour is his main target, not a ride at the Giro d'Italia or the Vuelta a España.

"It would just be magic to be able to win a stage somewhere or find myself in a break that goes to the finish. Like last year coming third on Alpe d'Huez that was pretty magic, it would have been better if Tom [Pidcock] wasn't there," he laughed, "but just experiences like that."

In arguably his best performance since a career and life-threatening crash in 2019, Froome finished third on stage 12 of the 2022 Tour de France, with Thomas' teammate Tom Pidcock producing an unmatchable ride to come out the victor on Alpe d'Huez. Since that day, Froome has been unable to produce the same level of performance, but he has his eyes set on a grand farewell to the race he has won four times.

"A win in the Tour for me now would just be super special, or even being closer, sort of with the GC guys, that would be a pretty special way for me to finish off."

However, when discussing Froome's ambitions with co-host Tom Fordyce at the end of the podcast episode, Thomas cast a shade of doubt on what the seven-time Grand Tour winner may be able to achieve 11 years on from his first Tour de France victory.

"[It's] typical Froomey fashion, [he] just never gives up, slightly deluded really - in as polite a way as you can say."

"That's just him, he's a winner and he wants to win, although he's quite far off that at the minute. But he's working hard and that's what he wants to do. We were in Best Buddies [a charity ride in Miami] for a few days together and I heard that he was just training like a monster already. That's the one thing with Froomey which is probably holding him back a little bit. I think he's kind of stuck in the 2010s almost, you know what I mean, like I think nutrition-wise and stuff, he's still a bit more into that rather than the new age nutrition... I think he's still quite old-school with that. But it would be nice to see him go out well."

Thomas and Froome have not raced against each other since the Santos Tour Down Under at the start of this year, but in 2024, they may be seeing a lot more of each other, with Froome intent on making a return to a stage-racing-focused calendar.

"I'd like to do a lot more stage racing. This year I did quite a lot of one-day racing building up to the Tour and I can comfortably admit I'm not a one-day rider. I want to get into a good stage race programme, blocks of training and racing maybe back to old-school a little bit - what I was always used to."

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