Chris Froome has admitted he faces a race against time to be fit for next year’s Tour de France but says that trying to get into “top shape” to fight for a record-equalling fifth yellow jersey is his “driving force.”
With less than seven months to go before the 107th edition of the race starts in Nice, the 34-year-old spoke to Team Ineos colleagues Luke Rowe and Geraint Thomas for their Watts Occurring podcast about his ongoing recovery from the horrific injuries he sustained in a crash in June.
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Froome was undertaking a reconnaissance of the individual time trial route at the Criterium du Dauphiné, his final warm-up race before the Tour de France, when he crashed into a wall.
His injuries included a broken femur, elbow and ribs, and he underwent further surgery last month to remove metal plates and screws that had been inserted to help his recovery.
Froome had already been back on his bike before that recent operation, and has now been given the go-ahead to recommence full training. He is now targeting being back in competition in February.
He told team-mates Thomas and Rowe: “It’s been a tough old six months, but I think I’m pretty lucky all things considered that it wasn’t worse or more serious.
“I got back on the bike yesterday officially for the first time since my second operation to remove some of the metalwork, so hopefully there’s no going back now and hopefully everything I do now will be towards the Tour next year. We'll see how it all goes step by step.”
Froome, who in 2018 won the Giro d’Italia to become just the seventh man to have won all three Grand Tours, told Thomas and Rowe he would not be ready to take on the Italian race in May and that targeting the Tour instead “makes a lot of sense.”
He admitted, however, that while aiming for that fifth title is “a big goal,” it was also a “daunting” one.
“Getting back on the bike for the first time was amazing, it was really cool to be out on the road again but it also highlighted to me just how far away from Tour de France winning shape I am,” Froome said.
“I’ve lost six months and it’s going to take me a good few months to get back there. That’s the driving force for me, that’s the light at the end of the tunnel, to get to the Tour in my best shape again.”
Teasing him, Froome’s team-mates pointed out that the crash did not appear to have led him to change his distinctive riding style – elbows out, eyes looking down at the stem – and he replied, “My head is still down, that didn't get fixed in the crash.”
He said: “I've been working really hard to keep the form and the way I ride, not getting into any bad habits.
“The first thing is just getting back on the bike and then trying to work on some of the weaknesses.”
“That right leg now hasn’t been working properly for six months, so it’s quite weak and needs a lot of work.”
Froome had a pronounced limp in his right leg when he appeared at the Tour de France Saitama Criterium in October – he skipped the main race but took part in an exhibition time trial.
He said at the time that the balance of his legs was around 65:35 in favour of the left one, and told Thomas and Rowe: “That right leg now hasn’t been working properly for six months, so it’s quite weak and needs a lot of work.”
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.