PARIS (AP) — Chris Froome underwent successful surgery after the high-speed crash that left him with multiple fractures and shattered his hopes of going for a fifth Tour de France title next month, his team said on Thursday.
Froome will remain hospitalized for observation at the Saint-Etienne hospital where he underwent a six-hour operation after hitting a wall at high speed during a training ride before a time trial at the Criterium du Dauphine in the town of Roanne on Wednesday. The Dauphine is a traditional warmup race for the Tour de France, the three-week showpiece race Froome and his teammates have dominated in recent years.
Team Ineos said in a statement that medical staff at the hospital in central France is “very happy” with Froome’s progress to date.
“First things first, the surgery was a success. The operation, which lasted for six hours, went very well,” Team Ineos doctor Richard Usher said. “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.”
The 34-year-old Froome broke his right femur, elbow and several ribs in the crash that likely ended his season. He received emergency care on the road, was transported to Roanne hospital then airlifted to Saint-Etienne for surgery.
Team principal Dave Brailsford told the BBC that Froome was on a descent with teammate Wout Poels when he went to blow his nose and a gust of wind took out his front wheel, he lost control, and he hit the wall of a house.
Froome, who won the Tour de France in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, has often crashed in his career but had never been so seriously injured.
Last year on the Tour, he crashed in the opening stage and hit the ground again on a cobbled stage in northern France. He was also forced out of the 2014 Tour after injuring his left wrist in crashes, and abandoned the 2015 Spanish Vuelta with a foot injury following yet another accident.
After his third-place finish in last year’s Tour, Froome had only one goal this season: matching the record of five wins shared by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.
He had skipped the Giro to focus solely on cycling’s marquee event and was hoping to put the final touches to his preparations at the Dauphine.
“Chris had worked incredibly hard to get in fantastic shape and was on track for the Tour, which unfortunately he will now miss,” Brailsford said.
Froome’s absence will settle the leadership question within Ineos, with Geraint Thomas looking to defend his title in July without a rival in his squad.
“Such crap news!! It’s always horrible hearing about any bad crash, but even worse when it’s a good mate!!” Thomas wrote on Twitter after finding out about Froome’s accident.
The Tour de France starts on July 6 from Brussels, Belgium.
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