There was no hiding the shock and disappointment outside the Team Ineos bus as Dave Brailsford made his way towards the media scrum to confirm what most people already knew. Chris Froome will not ride this year’s Tour de France. The British rider’s hunt for a record-equaling fifth yellow jersey is over, at least for now.
Just a few hours earlier Brailsford had been all smiles when he wheeled to a stop outside the Team Ineos bus after riding the time trial course at the Criterium du Dauphine ahead of his riders. They left soon after, with Froome one of the last to recon the 26.1km course around Roanne.
Less than an hour later and news began to emerge of Froome’s crash. Information was patchy at first but the consensus was unanimous – the fall was at high-speed and that the Tour de France was in serious doubt. Brailsford’s body language said it all as he walked towards the microphones and cameras.
“He’s had a bad crash actually. It sounds like he was at the foot of the descent, and it’s obviously very gusty today, and he took his hands off the bars to blow his nose and the wind has taken his front wheel,” Brailsford said.
“He’s hit a wall at 60kph or something like that, he’s got a bad fracture, he’s badly injured and it sounds like he has a fracture of the femur, to be confirmed, he’s not in hospital yet. He’s just going to get airlifted to a hospital shortly, probably Saint Etienne, maybe Lyon. So, obviously, we’re trying to manage that at the minute and make sure he’s got the best care. In the meantime, we’re obviously thinking about Michelle, his family and everybody else. Making sure that he’s being given the best possible care.
“I think in these types of situations it’s what happens in the next hour and a half is crucial so we’ll be on that. In the meantime, we’ve got to keep on racing and I think that’s part of the sport.”
It’s too early to predict where Froome and Team Ineos go from here.
Froome will need checks and medical attention before any concrete conclusions can be drawn. Team Ineos will need to consider their Dauphine and Tour de France plans but for now the team are in a state of sadness and shock.
“I think I’ve got some responsibility there to manage the reaction to the whole team. Looking forward, I think it’s too early to assess, he’s not going to ride the Tour, I think that’s pretty clear.” Brailsford concluded.
The exact details of Froome’s crash are still being established. We know that the fall took place on the descent towards the end of the time trial recon in Roanne and that Froome was with Wout Poels at the time of his fall. Froome took one of his hand off the bars in order to wipe his nose when a gust of wind took his front wheel and he went into a wall. He was on the roadside for some time with medical assistance on the scene quickly.
“Tim Kerrison is with him and Gary [Blem] the mechanic. Luckily there was an ambulance, one of the race ambulances actually parked up very close to where he had his accident so they took care of him pretty quickly so we were very fortunate and thanks to them. Like I said, they’re just going to try and fly him now to hospital,” Brailsford added.
“Our first, primary thought is for his care and make sure he gets the best medical care now as he possibly can. Think about his family, make sure they’re OK and in the meantime continue to race and focus on the races coming up in due course.”