“The only goal I’ve set myself, personally, is to get to the Tour de France next year,” says Chris Froome. “That’s what’s driving me.” The four-time winner says he is aiming to be in “similar or better” condition than he was before he crashed and broke multiple bones ahead of this year’s race.
“I can remember the first part of the recon, but the part around where I crashed, I’ve got no recollection at all,” he said of the incident, which took place during the Criterium du Dauphine.
Froome understands that he was heading slightly downhill along a straight stretch of road, emptying a nostril with one hand, when his front wheel was caught by a gust of wind that funnelled between buildings.
“I tried to hold it up and ended up veering off the road and into a wall at quite high speed,” he said.
“I think my first question was, ‘Can I get up? Can I get back on my bike? Am I going to be okay?’ and they made it very clear that I wasn’t moving anywhere and I should just lie still and that I wouldn’t be carrying on the rest of the race.”
The Team Ineos rider suffered multiple broken bones and was airlifted to Saint-Etienne Hospital.
“As soon as all my injuries were fully explained to me, that was where I took on board exactly what the extent of the injuries were and understood,” he said. “I mean I could barely even breathe after surgery. My lungs had been damaged by my broken ribs and broken sternum as well, so I was coughing up blood, I was having help to breathe as well.
“It was scary when I did come round the morning after the operation and just felt how hopeless I was. I was lying in that bed and 24 hours previously I’d been hoping to win the Criterium du Dauphine. It was just polar opposites and it was quite hard coming to terms with that.”
Froome was told by the surgeon that while he would be out for a number of months, he could nevertheless expect to make a 100 per cent recovery.
“That’s all I wanted to hear at that point,” he said. “From that point on, everything was so positive. I was just incredibly lucky not to have been more seriously injured.”
A Team Ineos video shows Froome pedalling one-legged and the rider confirmed that he was recovering well.
In his first interview since the crash that ended his 2019 season, @ChrisFroome reflects on the incident and details his rigorous daily recovery regime which is helping him move closer to his goal of lining up on the start line for the 2020 Tour de France. pic.twitter.com/qWaubno3fz
— Team INEOS (@TeamINEOS) August 3, 2019
“It’s safe to say that I’m ahead of all predictions that were made initially – how long it would take to get to even just this point. I got the green light to start weight bearing – very lightly, but it’s something. It’s a big step.”
Froome says he has been doing three to four hours of physio every day, plus two hours of recovery exercises on his own.
“For me the underlying goal is to get to the start of that Tour de France next year, in 2020, and to be at a similar or better position than I was this year.”