PERROS-GUIREC, France, June 27 (Reuters) – Chris Froome crashed at high speed on the opening day of the Tour de France, but the quadruple champion was on his bike for Sunday’s second stage determined to persevere as he returns to the race after a two-year absence following a horror crash in 2019.
The Briton, who was not to be in the mix for a decent place in the overall standings, was sent into a free fall amid a huge pile-up with 7.5 km remaining in Saturday’s race between Brest and Landerneau.
Froome was back on his bike after being treated by a race doctor and his Israel-Start Up Nation team sporting director Rik Verbrugghe before crossing the finish line at 2:37 pm on the winner of stage Julian Alaphilippe from France.
Froome, 36, who won his Tour title in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, spent hours at a local hospital to check for a fracture.
That was enough for a bruised and bruised Froome to take the start of the second stage at Perros-Guirec.
” It’s better today. Yesterday I was really worried, he came home late from the hospital but I feel much better this morning. He will need a few days to recover but let’s hope that on the bike everything will be fine, ”Verbrugghe told reporters.
Verbrugghe was in the middle of the chaos on Saturday when the bikes and riders were sent flying after the riders touched down, causing the peloton to charge in a slightly downhill section at over 70 km / h.
“First of all, you have to do it step by step. He asked me to get back on the bike. He had to get up first and that was the most difficult because he had a big bruise on the back of his leg, ”said Verbrugghe.
“It’s not the best way to start the Tour. “
Froome is on a long road to rehabilitation after breaking his femur, elbow and ribs after crashing into a wall at 60 km / h while warming up for a time trial at the Criterium du Dauphine in June 2019.
It became evident this season that he would not be able to be fully competitive for the biggest race in the world, but Froome is road captain for Israel-Start Up Nation and frontman Michael Woods, who has lost all hope of appear well in the general classification after losing a considerable amount of time in the middle of two huge pilings on Saturday.
Froome, however, is a tough guy, Verbrugghe said.
“Mentally, he’s fine. The most important thing is that he is on the bike and can continue to run. Because he was so excited to be on the Tour de France that if you had to leave after the first stage it would be a mental blow, ”said the Belgian, adding that Froome should improve throughout the Tour. and possibly participate in the Vuelta. (Tour of Spain).
“That’s the big idea behind it. He is not 100% ready for the Tour but he will improve throughout the race. “
Froome has been mocked on social media for believing he could still win the Tour one day.
“It’s a long rehabilitation. Some people shoot him, others have a lot of respect for him and I’m one of them, ”said Verbrugghe.
“Will he be competitive on the circuit again? Yes. It will take time for sure. If Chris Froome’s best level is enough to compete with these young riders on the Tour, that’s a big question mark, but he will come back to a much better level.
Report by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ed Osmond
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