Froome targets 2019 return, 2020 glory, and slams ‘ridiculous’ conspiracy theories
“I guess the fact that I can’t remember anything means it’s not going to haunt me in that sense.”
Chris Froome opened up about his near career-ending crash, the “ridiculous” theories surrounding it, his dream of racing again in 2019, and plans for glory in 2020, in an interview with the Telegraph…
Froome’s hopes of adding to his seven Grand Tour titles came to a sudden halt when he crashed into a wall at 54km/h during a recon at the Criterium du Dauphine in June.
He had six Grand Tour titles to his name at the time of his crash, and only discovered he had been promoted to 2011 Vuelta champion (following Juan Jose Cobo’s disqualification) while lying in the ICU, having fractured his ribs and neck, breaking his femur, hip and elbow, and damaging his lung.
“There’s probably a five-minute window where I can’t remember anything – and it drives me crazy,” he said.
“I’ve ridden my TT bike in windy conditions before and never had an issue. I can’t understand it. Apparently, we went through a town after the descent. I don’t remember. It was in that town, when there was a long straight, slightly downhill section, that it happened.
“Wout said I signalled to him to get out from behind me because I was going to clear my nose. And it was just after that that a gust of wind, apparently, caught me.”
" I guess the fact that I can’t remember anything means it’s not going to haunt me in that sense."
“As soon as I was woken up the next morning after surgery, I mean, I knew it was serious. I woke up in ICU, but I needed to know that it was all reparable, that I would be able to make a full recovery. And the doctor told me that within minutes. From that point on, I accepted what happened and everything was about moving forward.”
Froome slams ‘trolls’
The 34-year-old four-time Tour de France champion also dismissed suggestions the crash may have occurred to cover up something, given Team Ineos’ brushes with controversy in the past.
“Ridiculous,” he said. “All the riders who rode past me when I was lying on the side of the road knew what happened.
“When you’re riding past at 50kmh some people will shout something. Because they know you’re not going to stop. But never in real life has anyone come up and confronted me about something.
" I think that says a lot about a lot of these trolls. As for performance, everything is evolving: training, nutrition, equipment - you’d be asking questions if the top guys weren’t going faster."
A 2019 return?
Froome’s determination to get back on the bike was highlighted by a video he posted just five weeks after his crash, in which he was pedalling with one leg.
As the rehabilitation continues, Froome – very seriously, according to the Telegraph – said he has his sights on a return later this year.
He said: “It would be great to be able to do some of those post-season events that I typically do in the off-season.
“Just to get back into the pro scene again. It would great if I could do something before January.”
An eye on 2020 glory
But it is 2020 where Froome is applying most of his focus, and he is not intent on just making up the numbers…
“I’m grateful to be alive. I’m grateful to be on the road to recovery, I’m grateful that I’m able to recover.
“Now I’m going to give it everything. Both the TT and the road race in Tokyo look very appetising.
“I think the road race has over 5000m of climbing. Temperatures should be close to 40C. Humidity through the roof – should be an extremely gruelling race.
“And coming a week after doing the Tour – assuming I’m doing the Tour – it’s almost perfect. I’d like to throw my hat in the ring for both.
" As for the Tour, a fifth Tour title was a big deal in itself. But going for a fifth title off what was potentially a career-ending crash, that would be even bigger. There were loads of people who came out after the crash and said ‘He’s done. He’ll never win another Tour.’ They only spur me on."
“The bar is being raised every year. Everyone is going to altitude. Everyone is doing the same kind of training and following the same nutritional plans going into grand tours.
“So, the differences are very marginal. But I think so much of it goes back to basics. I’m going to have to train harder than I’ve ever trained before to get back there again.”