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After Recent Success, is Chris Froome Making a Comeback?

Chris Froome had a great performance at the Mercan’Tour Classic Alpes-Maritimes, the first time that he finished in the top 20 of any race since stage 2 of the Criterium du Dauphine in 2019. In the classics race, Froome did well on all of the early climbs, including La Colmaine, the Col de la Couillole, and the first passage of the Col de Valberg. Jakob Fuglsang, one of Froome's teammates, ended up winning the race by attacking halfway up the final climb and soloing clear of Michael Woods and David Gaudu. Woods beat Gaudu to take second place and Froome crossed the line in 11th.

Chris Froome in the yellow jersey at the 2017 Tour de France.

Chris Froome wearing the yellow general classification leader jersey at the Tour de France in 2017.

Froome, a four-time Tour de France champion, was left with a broken leg in two places, among numerous other injuries, after suffering a high-speed crash at the Criterium du Dauphine in 2019. It has been a long road back to full fitness for Froome. The Briton is enjoying an injury-free run and is hoping to start challenging once more after an impressive finish at the Mercan'Tour Classic Alpes-Maritimes on May 31st, 2022. Froome's first race since his horrific accident was at the UAE Tour in 2020. It's been a long time since he was fully fit, but he's finally healthy again and did well at the Mercan'Tour Classic Alpes-Maritimes. This leads to many questions, among them, many people are left wondering is Froome on the road to becoming a champion again?

For many, seeing Froome healthy enough to return to the pro circuit is enough. For others, there is an inherent want and desire to see familiar faces on the podium. Case in point, a quick search of Peter Sagan leads down a rabbit hole of news targeted toward people eager to see the champion winning major events. Sagan led the points classification every year from 2012 to 2019 (aside from disqualification in 2017) but has been in a slump since then. The seemingly unbeatable sprinter was beaten in his own game by Sam Bennett in 2020.

Crashing is an inevitable factor in road cycling. In 2021, this ended Sagan's bid for the points jersey again when he stated that he could not move his leg and pulled out of the race before stage 12. Earlier in the year, Sagan made waves by taking the points classification at the Giro de Italia in his second-ever debut at the event but was nonetheless traded from Bora-Hansgrohe to TotalEnergies in 2021. The downfall of Froome and the trading of Sagan along with the latter's inability to secure a world champion title after 2017 signified a larger factor in the professional cycling realm: a new wave of stars is emerging and a lot of the champions that many fans are familiar with are beginning to fall behind. There are many more signs which have largely been ignored, such as the recent retirement of Vincenzo Nibali, the surprise TDF general classification win by Egan Bernal in 2019 (who was also the winner of the U23 classification), and the recent uprise of a new star, Tadej Pogacar, who won the TDF general classification in 2020 and 2021 and is only 23 years old at publication.

The new generation of cyclists is coming up strong and they are quickly eclipsing the older professionals. The new generation of young cyclists is proving to be faster, stronger, and more determined than ever before. They are also less likely to have compounding injuries or have other health problems that can plague older athletes. The old guard is not going down without a fight though. They may not be able to win as often as they used to, but they still have the experience and wisdom that comes with age. There will always be a place for the older cyclists in the sport, but it is clear that the future of the sport is quickly being grasped by newer talent. Fans may enjoy seeing familiar faces, but the statistics are showing that although fully recovered it is unlikely for Chris Froome to return to his former place in the spotlight—an issue that many cyclists in his generation are facing.

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