Richie Porte and Chris Froome have been teammates and they've been rivals, but when news filtered through that Froome had crashed out of the Criterium du Dauphine on Wednesday with a fractured elbow and femur, the Trek-Segafredo rider spoke for everyone in the peloton when he wished the Team Ineos leader a speedy recovery.
Froome crashed heavily and at speed during a recon of the stage 4 time trial around Roanne and was treated on the roadside for several hours before being airlifted to hospital. It was confirmed late in the evening that he would undergo surgery, although his inability to participate in this year's Tour de France was confirmed much earlier in the day.
"I was in the car for the recon and Dan Martin sent me a message saying he'd seen it all," Porte told Cyclingnews after his time trial effort on Wednesday.
"It's not nice. Whether he's a rival or not, and no matter what people think of Chris Froome, he's still got two young kids and a wife at home. There's a very human element to that. No one likes seeing anyone getting hurt, so I hope it's not too bad. It doesn't sound good though," Porte said before news of the exact injuries and surgery was confirmed.
How long Froome will remain out of action is still unclear, and any talk of recovery and a comeback would be premature. However, Porte emphasised that the 34-year-old had the necessary will to return to the top of the sport.
"Whatever anyone wants to say about Froome, he's one of the hardest guys out there,." Porte said. "How he trains and how he is, you can't rule him out."
As for Porte, he finished 11th in the 26.1km time trial, which was his first race of truth since last year's Vuelta a Espana and his first competitive venture on his new Trek time trial bike. He was never in contention for the stage win, with Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) shredding a world-class field of Grand Tour riders and time trial specialists, but the Australian sits 12th overall, 54 seconds off Adam Yates' yellow jersey. Stage 5 is likely to end in a bunch sprint, but the three remaining stages head into the mountains and will decide the overall this year. With his form on the up, Porte will be a rider to watch.
"I was happy with the ride. I've not done a time trial since the Vuelta last year so it's been a long time. I have to be happy with where I'm at. I'm happy with the bike and my position. Obviously, with Trek they do a lot of work on that," he told Cyclingnews.
"I've not looked at GC yet, but it's always nice to move up and do a decent time trial. It's not over yet. The race is really for the weekend, so it's about getting through the next couple of days. I wasn't healthy at the start of the race, but I'm getting better and better as each day goes on."