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Chris Froome not fit enough to race Saitama Criterium

Chris Froome at the 2019 Saitama Tour de France criterium
(Image credit: Bettini Photos)

Chris Froome will not line up at the Saitama Tour de France Criterium on Sunday, saying he’s needs more to time to recover from the June crash that left him with multiple broken bones.

The four-time Tour de France winner, who is back riding his bike but still walking with a limp, will participate in the team time trial but doesn’t feel ready to ride in a peloton during the main event criterium.

Despite being an exhibition event, the Saitama Criterium was billed as Froome’s return to racing after nearly five months on the sidelines. The 34-year-old crashed while training on the time trial course at the Criterium du Dauphine in June and broke his right femur and elbow, along with vertebrae and his sternum.

He still has a plate in his hip - to be removed in early November - and bolts above his knee but has been able to ride a bike for a few weeks, albeit at low intensity.

On Friday Froome eased up on the climbs as he reconned the 2020 Olympics course near Tokyo with Jakob Fuglsang, Romain Bardet, and Michal Kwiatkowski under pouring rain. On Saturday he confirmed he would not ride Sunday’s criterium.

"I’m keeping the legs ticking over, basically. It’s just tourist riding at the moment really, but it’s such a good feeling to get out on the road and be back on the bike – I’ve really missed it the last few months," Froome said on Saturday.

"At the same time, I’m just not on the level to be back in a peloton, accelerating out of corners in a criterium. That’s why tomorrow (Sunday - ed), I’ll hopefully be with the guys at the start of the team time trial, but my recovery is not at the point yet where I can be back racing."

Froome nevertheless finds himself back in the world of professional cycling, having been forced to watch the season unfold from afar.

"It’s pretty cool to be back in the cycling bubble again. I’ve missed it," Froome said.

 "Watching it from behind a screen is not the same. Even though this is not a proper race, it’s cool to be around the riders again and back in the swing of things. I definitely needed it – I could just focus on my recovery, and that’s all I’ve been doing for the past few months. Now I’m happy to be back integrating into the cycling world."

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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.