After declaring that he felt Chris Froome was not value for his salary, Israel-Premier Tech owner Sylvan Adams reiterated his criticism of the four-time Tour de France winner but defended the team’s reputation of hiring veteran riders in an exclusive interview with Cyclingnews at the UCI Road World Championships.
Adams and his team management built the team on the backs of veteran riders, signing Froome in 2021 from Ineos Grenadiers after his terrible crash at the Criterium du Dauphiné 2019 kept him out of competition the better part of a year. Israel-Premier Tech have only begun to sign a younger generation of riders after losing WorldTour status for 2023.
The team have been actively seeking a new Grand Tour contender since Froome has not achieved his previous level. Adams refused to confirm nor deny his team is among those bidding to buy Remco Evenepoel out of his Soudal-Quickstep contract.
“I know that there’s been talk of us being a retirement home. It’s a fair criticism,” Adams said.
“When we moved up to the WorldTour in 2020, we had a Pro Continental roster – it wasn’t good enough. When we upgraded we didn’t have the ecosystem at that time, the scouting and all the other stuff that a WorldTour team needs to have to bring up young riders and to let them develop over the timeframe required.
“Not everybody comes in like Egan Bernal or [Tadej] Pogačar and just wins right away. So yeah, we went out and got veterans who had had success. I mean, Chris Froome is the marquee example of that strategy. And it didn’t work out in some cases.”
In other cases, the transfers were a great success. Australian Simon Clark was without a team and on the brink of retirement when Israel-Premier Tech hired him in 2022 at age 36. Clarke repaid the team with their first Tour de France stage win on the cobbles of Northern France.
Michael Woods, also now 36, won a stage of this year’s Tour de France on the Puy de Dôme. The team brought on Domenico Pozzovivo on a last chance saloon contract, and have nine riders that are 35 or older, with Woods as their top scorer.
“I don’t care – call us a retirement home,” Adams said flippantly.
“If the guys produce? Great. So if Woods and Clark can win – if Geraint Thomas can do so well like he did in the Giro where he came second – I’m okay with older riders.”
That much is…