“It’s the biggest stage of the Dauphiné. I’ll have to see how I’m feeling, but I’ll obviously do what I can to try to save the jersey,” Froome said.
“It never feels good after crashing, you always feel a little bit swollen and bruised, but that comes with the territory and is part of being a cyclist.”
Froome crashed in yesterday’s sixth stage en route to Poisy at the foot of the Alps. Rival Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) said team Sky messed up a series of curves, Froome braked to correct his path and crashed. Froome explained that the narrow roads were uneven and had gravel on top.
He finished in the same time as his rivals who waited for him, but arrived with his left side and back scraped and bloody. He explained that nothing was broken but that he needed bandages.
The Tour de France starts in only 21 days in Yorkshire so any incident could throw Froome off track. However, he and the team shook off the crash and subsequent road rash.
“When I saw Chris up quickly and focused his bike, I knew that he was okay and alert,” sports director, Nicolas Portal told Cycling Weekly.
“It’s just superficial in this case. Sometimes you can have a bad crash, you have nothing on the skin, but then you really feel like crap. In the other case, you can lose a lot of skin, a smooth crash, so you’re body’s not blocked up too much.
“Was I worried his Tour was in jeopardy? No, I’m not like that, and anyway, I saw he was fine and jumping up immediacy. When Geraint Thomas crashed in Paris-Roubaix, that was a hard crash. He fell fast and on bad asphalt. When you stay down on the ground for 10 seconds, then you think ‘f**k.'”
Froome had to nix his plans to race the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race this March due to lower back pains. Today, however, he is pushing ahead in the race’s queen stage that includes two hors catégorie climbs at the finish.
“He’s a hard man, he should be okay. He really has no option but to ride his bike!” Portal added. “For sure, though, Chris won’t be 100%”
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) sit second and third overall, both at 12 seconds back on a recovering Froome. The face the 12.6-kilometre Col de la Forclaz climb and the 10.2-kilometre closing climb.
“I imagine that anyone with the legs will try to attack, that’s where the race will be won or lost,” said Froome.
“It’s not a climb I know, but it’s definitely going to be tough from what I can see. There are two very tough climbs. I expect with a 12-second advantage that I’ll really have to fight to hold on to the yellow jersey, but it’s not up to me to attack now but up to my rivals.”
His rivals might be looking at Froome’s condition close today in light of the Tour de France next month. Froome does not expect the spill yesterday to upset his road to Yorkshire.
“It’s minor,” he added. “I’ll keep training as normal.”
Images from the sixth stage of the 2014 Criterium du Dauphine, photos by Graham Watson
Chris Froome crashes hard on stage six of the Criterium du Dauphine whilst in race lead