Life goes on at scene of Froome’s fall but locals wince at the memory of crash
Briton saw his season wiped out in moment of misfortune.
Blood spatter on the pavement is the only remaining evidence at the scene of the high-speed crash which left Chris Froome’s Tour de France hopes in tatters.
Four-time Tour champion Froome suffered catastrophic injuries, including a broken femur, broken hip and multiple fractured ribs, when he clattered into a wall at around 33mph during a descent through Saint-Andre-d’Apchon on Wednesday.
On a grey, drizzly morning in the sleepy French village, situated around seven miles west of the town of Roanne and surrounded by countryside, there is little sign of the drama of two days ago.
Residents, many with limited English, light up in recognition at the mention of Froome’s name, before wincing as they think about the impact and horrific pain he so recently endured.
Almost all know little more than they have read in the papers: that, according to Team Ineos team principal Sir Dave Brailsford, the 34-year-old had lifted a hand to blow his nose before being toppled by a gust of wind.
One man pulls a mobile phone from his pocket and produces a blurry image of the cyclist receiving medical attention as he lays prone on the footpath but, because of the language barrier, the ensuing conversation is stilted.
While life carries on as normal here, Froome has many months of recovery ahead of him.
The Kenya-born rider remains in hospital in nearby St Etienne after undergoing extensive surgery. He seems certain not to race again this season but could still end it with a seventh Grand Tour title.
As he awoke from a six-hour operation, news broke that 2011 Vuelta a Espana winner Juan Jose Cobo has been found guilty of a doping offence.
That could elevate the Briton to a second Vuelta win.
It seems like scant consolation at the end of a devastating week, but his case has already been championed by race director Javier Guillen.
“If the first place has been caught cheating, the victory should fall to the one who finished second,” Guillen told Spanish newspaper Diario AS.
“Froome finished second and it would be logical, although it is the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) that must decide if the victory goes to him.
“I understand that with (Lance Armstrong) we wanted to erase a long and dark period, but I think the logical thing here is a reassignment.”
Three days ago, Froome had been travelling down Rue Pierre Durantet. The street is long, sloped, and straight with homes and businesses on either side, eventually ending at a roundabout.
Alongside Ineos team-mate Wout Poels, he had been on a reconnaissance mission ahead of the fourth stage of the Criterium du Dauphine.
The race was being used as part of his build-up to this year’s Tour de France, which starts on July 6 and had presented a major opportunity for him to join an elite group of just four riders to have won five Tour titles.
According to local police, a number of people witnessed the smash, which left Froome crumpled at the foot of a small, yellow-brick wall outside a large detached house protected by black, iron gates.
A member of the Gendarmerie told Press Association Sport that the property owner had been absent at the time of the incident. That remained the case on Friday.
Officers also backed up the suggestion that wind had been a significant factor in the incident, while saying they had taken possession of Froome’s bike.
A brief moment of misfortune means the equipment will not be required for some time.