Chris Froome (Ineos) has shared his first statement since a horrifying crash at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné saw him placed in intensive care after losing four pints of blood and suffering multiple fractures.
Speaking from the hospital at Saint-Etienne where he was airlifted to after coming off his bike at 60kph during a recon of the stage four time trial course, Froome said: "Firstly, I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has sent their best wishes to me since the crash.
"This is obviously a tough time but I have taken a lot of strength from the support over the last three days. The outpouring of support has been really humbling and something I would never have expected."
The four-time winner of the Tour de France now faces at least six months out of action, meaning he will miss a chance to win a record-equalling fifth Tour title. However, Froome has said he is lucky to be here today, and has thanked everyone who helped in the aftermath of the crash.
"I’d also like to extend my gratitude to the Team, especially Doctor Richard Usher and his medical staff, who have been exemplary since the crash.
"In addition, I am so thankful to the emergency services and everyone at Roanne Hospital who assisted and stabilised me, as well as the surgeons, doctors and nurses at the University Hospital of St Etienne, who have really gone above and beyond the call of duty, for which I am ever so grateful. I know how lucky I am to be here today and how much I owe to all the paramedics and medical staff on the race."
A surgeon at the Saint-Etienne hospital said that despite his injuries there is "no medical reason" why Froome could not come back "stronger than before".
Froome is also looking to the future, saying: "Whilst this is a setback and a major one at that, I am focusing on looking forward. There is a long road to recovery ahead, but that recovery starts now and I am fully focused on returning back to my best."
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1