Chris Froome has undergone a successful six-hour operation after a high-speed crash on Wednesday left him in intensive care with multiple fractures.
The Briton was flung into a wall by a sudden wind while attempting to blow his nose during a recon ride at the Criterium du Dauphine. He was travelling at 54km/h.
Froome, who was airlifted to hospital for surgery, suffered a fractured right femur, a broken hip, a fractured elbow and fractured ribs.
On Thursday, Team Ineos confirmed Froome’s procedure was a success, with the six-time Grand Tour winner “actively engaging in discussing his rehabilitation options”.
“First things first, the surgery was a success. The operation, which lasted for six hours, went very well,” Dr Richard Usher told TeamINEOS.com.
“Chris woke up this morning and was reviewed by the intensive care consultants and the orthopaedic specialist who operated on him and they’re both very happy with his progress to date.
” 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.”
“As he begins his road to recovery, the Team will now only be providing further updates at a stage where it is necessary to do so.”
Team Ineos’ statement added: “Chris has asked the Team to extend his thanks for the overwhelming number of messages of support that he’s received over the last 24 hours. They mean a lot to him.”
Froome will release a statement of his own in the coming days.
Speaking on Wednesday, Team Ineos boss Dave Brailsford admitted to BBC Sport Froome was “not in great shape”, with his chances of racing in the Tour de France over.
“He’s been operated on to make sure that first phase of medical care is as optimal as possible and we will manage it from there. It’s an evolving situation. It is concerning, there is no doubt about that,” said Brailsford. “He’s not in great shape. There are crashes and bad crashes and this was a bad crash.”
Brailsford told Belgian media shortly after the incident that it is “pretty clear” that Froome will not be fit for the Tour de France, and revealed more details, saying:
“Our primary focus now is obviously on ensuring Chris gets the very best possible care, which he will do, so he can recover as soon as possible.
“One of our big strengths on this team is coming together in difficult moments, and we will ensure we do everything possible to support Chris and his family.”
Brailsford continued: “Even though we all recognise the risks involved in our sport, it’s always traumatic when a rider crashes and sustains serious injuries.
“Chris had worked incredibly hard to get in fantastic shape and was on track for the Tour, which unfortunately he will now miss.
Froome crashed during stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine-Getty Images
“One of the things which sets Chris apart is his mental strength and resilience – and we will support him totally in his recovery, help him to recalibrate and assist him in pursuing his future goals and ambitions.”
Froome hit a wall at high speed during a course reconnaissance of the 26.1 km individual time trial around Roanne in central France.
The news comes as a huge blow to the four-time Tour de France Champion, who had looked in decent form in the opening three stages of the Dauphine as his preparations continued for the 2019 Tour de France, where he was expected to be joint team leader with defending champion Geraint Thomas.
Sir Dave Brailsford has wished Froome well in his recovery-Getty Images
Froome’s crash came towards the end of his recon of Wednesday’s time trial course, a stage that was expected to see him challenge for the overall lead of the Dauphine.
With Thomas expected to race at the Tour de Suisse next week and Egan Bernal on the road to recovery after an injury that ruled him out of the Giro d’Italia, Froome faced some serious competition for the lead role at Ineos in this year’s Tour de France.
But all indications were that Froome had done enough to be Ineos’ unofficial leader at the Tour, ahead of both Thomas and Bernal, as he aimed for an historic fifth title. Team director Dave Brailsford appeared to confirm as much when he said this week:
“We’re going to do all we can to support Chris in his bid to win a fifth Tour, to cement his place in history and join the exclusive club of five-time winners. Sport is full of history and legends. We have to try and do great things, but we also have other riders to manage, too, like Geraint and Egan.”