For the first time since his horror crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné, Chris Froome has opened up about the accident and his subsequent road to recovery, saying the only goal he has set himself is to get to the 2020 Tour de France.
In a video published by his Ineos team, Froome describes his limited recollection of the crash as well as giving details of his lengthy rehabilitation as he aims to return to the top of the sport.
“It’s safe to say I’m ahead of all the predictions that were made initially of how long it would take to get to even just this point. I got the green light to start weight-bearing very lightly, but it’s a big step,” Froome said.
“I’ve been doing three to four hours of physio every morning. I take a small break at lunchtime and then I start the two hours of exercises that I need to do on my own, just implementing everything the physio has helped me to do. The days are full.”
His dedication to eventually getting back on the bike was inspired by his surgeon telling him he would be able to make a 100 per cent recovery, which Froome says was “all I wanted to hear at that point”.
Froome’s recollection of the crash is blurry: “I can remember the first part of the recon but around where I crashed I’ve got no recollection at all. I can only go off what people say who saw the crash happen, I can go off what they said…I really think it was one of those freak accidents.”
He does however remember his team rushing over to him, with Froome asking if he was able to get up and continue his ride, with Ineos staff telling him to lie still and that he wouldn’t be continuing at the Dauphiné, saying his leg looked broken and his arm didn’t look good either.
“I remember one of my first questions was ‘am I going to be alright for the Tour de France in a few weeks time?’ and they very quickly put that out of my mind,” Froome said.
When he arrived at the hospital Froome says it still hadn’t sunk in how serious his injuries were. “I had all kinds of neck braces on and things to stabilise my vertebrae in the emergency room and I could see there were about ten people all moving around me, doing things, pulling things, changing things,” Froome said, “and it was at that point I saw the urgency on a lot of their faces. It was at that point I was like wow this isn’t just a broken leg here.”
After his surgery, the extent of his injuries were explained to him, the 34-year-old saying he could barely breathe after the operation as his lungs had been damaged by his broken ribs and sternum, causing him to cough up blood.
“It was scary when I did come round the morning after the operation and felt how hopeless I was lying in that bed. Obviously 24 hours previously I was hoping to try and win the Dauphiné, now it was the polar opposite, it was quite hard coming to terms with,” Froome said.
Despite having to take things day-by-day, slowly building the amount of exercise he is able to do, one goal is keeping him focused and motivated. The 202o Tour de France.
“The only goal I’ve set for myself is to get to the Tour de France next year,” Froome said. “That’s what’s driving me. Week by week I can set myself little goals, allowing myself a little bit more movement, but for me the underlying goal is to get to the start of the Tour de France in 2020 and get to a similar or better position than I was this year.”