Chris Froome will leave Team Ineos at the end of the season to bring to an end a decade-long association with Sir Dave Brailsford’s team.
The emergence of both Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal, who have won the past two editions of the Tour, has seen Froome’s leadership role within Ineos challenged and he will likely move to the Israel Start-Up Nation team.
Brailsford said: “Chris’s current contract comes to an end in December and we have taken the decision now not to renew it.
“We are making this announcement earlier than would usually be the case to put an end to recent speculation and allow the team to focus on the season ahead.”
Froome, winner of the Tour de France in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, suffered career-threatening injuries in a high-speed crash during a recon ride at the Criterium du Dauphine last summer, ruling him out of that year’s Tour.
He has made this year’s race his sole target after a gruelling rehabilitation as he aims for what would be a record-equalling fifth Tour crown, and until recently there had been speculation he could make a rare mid-season move due to the emerging rivalries within the Ineos team.
Froome said: “It has been a phenomenal decade with the team, we have achieved so much together and I will always treasure the memories.
“I look forward to exciting new challenges as I move into the next phase of my career but in the meantime my focus is on winning a fifth Tour de France with Team Ineos.”
Israel Start-Up Nation have declined to comment on reports linking them with a move for Froome.
Froome completed a Tour-Vuelta a Espana double in 2017, and then held all three Grand Tour titles at the same time when he followed up with a dramatic victory at the Giro d’Italia in 2018.
His seventh Grand Tour title was announced while he was still in a hospital bed last summer as he was retrospectively awarded the 2011 Vuelta crown due to a positive drugs test for Juan Jose Cobo.
But with Thomas beating Froome in the 2018 Tour and the 23-year-old Bernal then claiming victory last year, Froome had seen his undisputed leadership within Ineos disappear.
Brailsford added: “Given his achievements in the sport, Chris is understandably keen to have sole team leadership in the next chapter of his career – which is not something we are able to guarantee him at this point. A move away from Team Ineos can give him that certainty.”