Asked about his first day of racing since the UAE Tour ended at the end of February, Froome smiled and was excited to get back to the action.
“I loved it yesterday. It was so good to be back in a real race, not only after the crash and after an injury, but also after the whole COVID situation, ”he said.
“It was so nice to be able to do what we spent months, months and months getting ready. Looking at the big picture, I also think from an individual’s mental health perspective it’s good to be back.
“My legs felt good too,” he added. “OK, it wasn’t an extremely difficult stage yesterday other than the heat, but I felt surprisingly easy on the wheels. ”
Looking ahead to the third Occitanie stage through the Pyrenees to the summit finish at Col de Beyrède, Froome said he had no pressure to get a result yet. “I don’t necessarily need to do well on this stage. Today [Sunday] It’s only my second day of racing in a very long time, and I’m just happy to be back in the race right now with the obvious goal of being ready for the Tour. ”
He declined to be drawn on his future beyond the Tour and the end of this season, when he leaves Ineos for Israel Start-Up Nation. “There’s going to be a lot of changes, but it’s still a few months away, so I don’t really think about it now,” was all he said about it, adding, “I’m just focused on the best. on my own for the rest of the season. ”
Tuesday, the Route d’Occitanie will end with a stage starting from the Gers, the house department by Nicolas Portal, who played a fundamental role in the four victories of the Froome’s Tour as well as in many other successes.
Reflecting on the loss of Portal, Froome said he and the rest of the Ineos squad will never forget the French sporting director.
“He’s been such an important part of all of our lives over the past decade. It’s really strange to run in France without Nico, and especially in this part of the world. But he will always be with us, “explained the Briton.