Chris Froome has finally returned to racing today, safely negotiating the opening stage of the UAE Tour, eight months after sustaining horrific injuries at the Criterium du Dauphiné.
Quoted in a tweet from Team Ineos following today’s stage, the 34-year-old, whose injuries included a broken right femur, said: “It feels great to be a bike racer again.”
Today’s stage was one for the sprinters, with Bora Hansgrohe’s Pascal Ackermann getting the better of Lotto Soudal’s Caleb Ewen.
Froome, meanwhile, came home in the bunch, 115th of the 140 riders who completed the 148-kilometre stage from La Pointe to Dubai Silicone Oasis.
— UAE Tour Official (@uae_tour) February 23, 2020
The four-time Tour de France champion’s return to competition comes almost exactly four months before this year’s 107th edition of the race begins in Nice.
Froome has said that his recovery has been motivated by his aim to join Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain as the only five-time yellow jersey winners.
— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) February 23, 2020
Speaking ahead of the UAE Tour earlier this week, he said: “It’s all I’ve thought about for months now – being back racing. It will be a huge relief just to be back in the peloton again.
“It feels like I’ve been given a second chance to come back to pro racing after a crash like that. I’m definitely not taking that for granted.
“The year’s gone incredibly well so far but having said that I do still need to manage expectations.
“I’m still quite a way off where I was at the Dauphiné before the crash. It’s going to take me a while to get back to that shape.”
As part of his rehabilitation, Froome has worked on building up the strength in his right leg.
“It’s been great to be back doing the normal sessions with the guys and actually being able to get through the workload again,” he said.
“I’ve still got to work on the strength of the leg which was injured but that’s already improving quickly.”
Froome added: “This is a great way for me to start my season. It’s a race I missed out on last year and I was really hoping to do.
“It should be a good place for me to test out my legs and get back in the peloton again. Hopefully I can do a job for the team and we can try and get the best result possible.”
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.