Chris Froome highlights dangers of long Covid after battle with virus

Four-time Tour de France champion warns of cardiovascular impact and says his VO2 max took a hit after illness

Chris Froome
(Image credit: Getty)

Chris Froome has highlighted the long-term effects that he suffered after contracting Covid, and says that many riders are suffering months later after battling with the virus.

The Israel-Premier Tech rider picked up Covid for the first time at this year’s Tour de France, forcing him to abandon the race. Froome then returned to competition at the Vuelta a España, but after a largely disappointing race, explained that he concluded the season “not feeling good.” 

In a video shared on his official YouTube channel, Froome explained that dealing with Covid “really knocked him for six” and that he found it difficult to come back from that. 

"I came out of the season not feeling good. I feel I really needed a break. COVID really knocked me for six," Froome said. 

"I just wasn't able to come back from that. I never felt like I had lots of energy on the bike. I went to the Vuelta to build through the race but all the way through I felt flat, flat, flat."

Froome also explained that he believes his VO2 max was definitely affected by the virus, and that it can produce some “strange heart rate readings”. 

The Israel-Premier Tech rider recently travelled to Israel for physiological testing and registered a VO2 max of 72.1, normalised to 75 if he was at race weight. In 2015, when Froome underwent testing in a bid to quell suspicion surrounding his performances, he registered a score of 84.6 normalised to 88.2.

As well as the issue with his VO2 max, Froome explained that conversations with other professional riders has revealed to him some of the other effects that Covid can have. 

"There's definitely a heavy impact on the heart, having COVID. It's not just like having the flu, like a lot of people think, especially for pro riders," Froome said. 

"From those I've spoken to within the peloton, a lot of guys are really struggling with after-effects two or three months down the line - feeling fatigue, feeling as if they don't have the same energy levels, strange heart rate readings as well."

"It was good to go to Israel, do a whole load of physiological tests, go and check VO2 max, which was definitely affected by having COVID. So some heart checks which was important as well just to check that everything was all right," he added. 

Looking ahead to the 2023 season, Froome has suggested that he could begin his campaign at the Tour Down Under, although with Israel-Premier Tech due to drop out of the WorldTour, nothing is fully confirmed. 

Froome recently slammed the WorldTour relegation system, calling it a “death sentence” for many smaller teams.

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Tom Thewlis

Tom is a News and Features Writer at Cycling Weekly, and previously worked in communications at Oxford Brookes University. He has reported from a wide range of races and events including the Tour de France and World Championships.