Chris Froome says he is lucky to be alive following his horror bike crash in France on Wednesday.
The four-time Tour de France champion suffered a fractured right femur, elbow and ribs, plus a broken hip and a fracture to his neck, while losing four pints of blood after hitting a wall at 35mph at stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine race.
The Team Ineos rider underwent major six-hour surgery at St Etienne hospital and is expected to take ‘at least six months’ to recover.
“I know how lucky I am to be here,” the 34-year-old said.
“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.
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“This has obviously been 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.”
Despite being told not to take risks by his team-mates, Froome took both hands off the handlebars to put on a jacket, before doing it again, this time to blow his nose, when a gust of wind hit his front wheel and caused him to lose control.
Team Ineos general manager Dave Brailsford says Froome will return if he can fully recover.
“It’s quite difficult to see that if I’m being honest with you,” Brailsford told BBC 5 Live’s Sportsweek, when questioned whether Froome will step back from cycling.
“I think he will try and get back. Who knows how this will impact on him, but I don’t think it will be the case where he’ll just say, ‘Right, I’m satisfied now I’ll hang up my wheels and call it a day’.
“I think he’s more likely to really work hard in rehab and push himself really hard. He’ll take the same approach to that I’m sure as he does to his sport.
“If I was a betting man I’d say yes we’ll seem him back at some point in the future.”