Chris Froome has revealed he will undergo further surgery as he continues his recovery from his crash at the Criterium du Dauphiné in June, which forced him out of the Tour de France – and says it is too early to say whether next year’s edition of the race, where he hopes to win a record-equalling fifth yellow jersey, is “doable.”
Speaking at the Saitama Criterium in Japan, where he skipped his planned participation in the main race but rode in an exhibition time trial, the 34-year-old also shared his thoughts on next year’s Tokyo Olympics road race route, part of which he rode on Friday.
“My recovery is not at the point yet where I can be back racing,” the Team Ineos rider told AFP. He said that the Dauphiné crash, which happened as he undertook a recce of the time trial course and left him with a broken right femur and fractured elbow and ribs, had “certainly changed me, given me a new start.
“It’s like starting from zero again, below zero if you like, that’s what it feels like,” he explained.
“But it’s completely changed my motivation, given me a challenge I’ve never had before. This could be perceived as an incredibly difficult and negative situation, but I’ve tried to turn that around to try and achieve something unprecedented.”
Speaking of his recovery, Froome said that the balance in his leg strength was currently around 65-35 between left and right, adding, “I’ve got to get the legs back to 50-50,” and that he will be back on the operating table in December.
“I’ve still got more surgery to remove a big metal plate and about six screws. It’s quite tender, the muscle and soft tissue that’s being impacted by this metal plate on my hip,” he said.
His motivation is an overall victory in France next year that would put him level with Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain as the only five-time winners of cycling’s biggest race.
“The Tour de France is the driving force, the big prize for me is to try and get back to the Tour de France, it’s still too early to say if it’s doable. I’m going to do everything I can to get back to where I left off.”
Froome was present alongside team-mate and defending champion Egan Bernal as the route of next year’s 107th edition of the race was unveiled in Paris earlier this month.
There’s an unusually early mountain stage in the Provencal Alps above Nice on Stage 2, and just one individual time trial, which features on the penultimate stage and finishes with an ascent to La Planche des Belles Filles.
“It’s a Tour de France we haven’t seen for decades,” Froome said. “It’s a much more punchy, much more explosive Tour route than usual. It’s a route that looks a lot more like a Vuelta a Espana.”
He believes there are more stages than usual that can be described as GC days, and thinks that will give “a lot of opportunities to the main rivals to really slug it out. That’s what all fans want to see.”
Turning to the Olympic road race route, Froome said: “I’ve never won a one-day race, but the Olympic route we saw yesterday is fantastic.
“I can’t wait to get stuck into it, to analyse it and figure out what it’s going to take to win a race like that.”
The men’s OIympic road race takes place on Saturday 25 July next year, just six days after the Tour de France finishes in Paris.
The 234-kilometre race, which has a total elevation gain of 4,865 metres, starts in Musashinonomori Park, west Tokyo in Chofu, and finishes at the Fuji Speedway circuit in the Shizuoka prefecture.
The first main climb comes 80 kilometres in at Doushi Road, followed by a 14.3-kilometre climb on Mount Fuji’s lower slopes with an average incline of 6.0 per cent.
Two laps of the Fuji Speedway circuit follow, then the riders take in the 6.8-kilometre Mikuni Pass, crested with 30 kilometres remaining, with an average gradient of 10.2 per cent.
The race then heads back to the Fuji Speedway circuit for the finish via Lake Yamanakako.
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.