Sir Bradley Wiggins has tipped his former team-mate Chris Froome to bounce back from injury, describing him as an “amazing athlete.”
Froome was runner-up to Wiggins when the latter became the first British rider to win the Tour de France in 2012, and has gone on to clinch the yellow jersey himself four times.
But his hopes of securing a record-equalling fifth title this summer were dashed when he crashed while recceing the route of the time trial at the Criterium du Dauphiné in June.
He fractured his leg, hip, ribs, vertebrae and elbow, but is now back on his bike and will race next month in the late-season exhibition race, the Tour de France Saitama Criterium in Japan.
Some have been surprised at the speed of Froome’s recovery but Wiggins, speaking in Harrogate for his final Eurosport podcast of the season, is not among them.
"Nothing would surprise me with him,” Wiggins said. "I think he will win the Tour [de France] next year.
"He is an amazing athlete and the drive he has got, I think he almost needed something like this to drive him and push him on.
"He was almost getting bored of doing the same old thing every year, and I tell you what: I wouldn't put anything past him.
"Anything they say about the time he will be out, he will surprise us with that, and he will be back at Tirreno-Adriatico in March I'm sure."
Former British road champion Matt Stephens, who was a guest on the show, said: "He is a remarkably single-minded individual. Laser focused.
"I think he keeps himself to himself, he posts a bit on social media and stuff, but he is just focused on getting back.
"He has won every Grand Tour, and the next challenge for him to just to get back to race fitness. You just cannot rule him out at all for next year."
As we reported yesterday, Froome’s Team Ineos team-mate Gerain Thomas, winner of the Tour de France in 2018 and runner-up to colleague Egan Bernal this year, has hinted that he may ride the Giro d’Italia next year and skip the Tour, potentially leaving Bernal and Froome as co-leaders in France.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.