British cyclist Chris Froome underwent six hours of surgery for multiple fractures he suffered in a freak crash Wednesday in France but was conscious Thursday and preparing for what one doctor said would be a long recovery.
The four-time Tour de France winner had taken his hand off the handlebar of his bike to blow his nose and was riding at roughly 33 mph in preparation for the fourth stage of the Criterium du Dauphine in Roanne, France, when a strong gust of wind caused him to collide with a wall. He was preparing for the Tour de France, which begins July 6 in Brussels.
“He’s been operated on to make sure that first phase of medical care is as optimal as possible and we will manage it from there. It’s an evolving situation. It is concerning, there is no doubt about that,” Team INEOS principal Dave Brailsford told Radio 5 Live’s BeSpoke podcast. “He’s not in great shape.
“There are crashes and bad crashes and this was a bad crash.”
Froome, who was unconscious after the crash, fractured his right femur, hip, elbow and ribs and was airlifted to Saint-Etienne University Hospital, where he was in intensive care.
“First things first, the surgery was a success. The operation, which lasted for six hours, went very well,” Dr. Richard Usher said in a statement on Team INEOS’s website. “Chris woke up this morning and was reviewed by the intensive care consultants and the orthopedic specialist who operated on him and they’re both very happy with his progress to date.
“Chris will remain in hospital for the next few days for observation, but he is already actively engaging in discussing his rehabilitation options, which is very encouraging.“
Remi Philippot, the chief surgeon, told Agence France-Presse (via the BBC) that Froome faces a lengthy recovery and rehabilitation.
“The surgery was carried out as a semi-emergency to try to avoid any early complications that can develop from that sort of trauma,” he said. “Now recovery is going to be long. Roughly speaking, you are looking at a minimum of six months out of competition. The objective is not just about getting back on the bike, but on rehabilitating himself for the future. On a sporting level, he will need to make an exceptional recovery with the mental capacity required to recover and then get fit again.”
The 34-year-old cyclist, who was hoping to win a record-tying fifth Tour de France next month, was riding with INEOS teammate Wout Poels when he crashed.
“He came down a technical descent and on to a straighter piece of road with houses either side,” Brailsford said. “He signaled to Wout that he was going to clear his nose, he took his hand off the bar to do that and a gust of wind took his front wheel, he lost control and went straight into the wall of a house.
“We have had a look at his data, he went from 54 kilometers per hour to a dead stop.”
Froome was eighth overall in the Criterium after three stages of the eight-day race. He will miss the Tour after winning it in 2013 with Team Sky, and in 2015, 2016, and 2017. He was favored to win last year after winning the Vuelta a Espana and the Giro d’Italia but finished third. His teammate, Geraint Thomas, won.
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