Exclusive: Cyclist on his career-threatening crash, doping in cycling and the hunger for a fifth Tour de France title with his new team, Israel Start-Up Nation

It is almost 11pm when Chris Froome leans closer to the screen in his hotel room in Abu Dhabi. We have been talking for 40 minutes and while he has sometimes looked tired and vulnerable Froome has been cheerful and friendly. Of course there has been some difficulty when addressing doping in cycling and sobering memories of the accident that left him with fractured vertebrae and sternum, a shattered elbow, a collapsed lung and a double break of his femur that nearly ended his career.

Froome has also told me how much happier he is in the role of an underdog, as the new leader of a developing team in Israel Start-Up Nation (ISN), than riding at the front of a monster organisation such as Team Sky, which became Team Ineos, while winning his seven grand tours. There is less pressure and less tension. But, as he moves nearer to the camera, Froome insists the intensity of his sporting desire remains.

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Monday, February 22, 2021 - 3:00pm