Chris Froome has undergone almost eight hours of surgery to repair fractures in his femur, hip and elbow following his crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné on Wednesday, but he remains in intensive care in hospital in Saint-Étienne.
Team Ineos manager Dave Brailsford told reporters on Thursday morning that Froome’s surgery had been long but successful. He confirmed that Froome had suffered internal injuries as well as the fractures to his femur, hip, elbow and ribs. According to the L'Equipe newspaper, the fractures were open, compound fractures caused by the high-speed of the crash and impact with a wall.
“He had surgery to repair his femur, his hip, his elbow. He’s got broken ribs, a little bit of internal damage as well, so he’s staying in intensive care for the next couple of days and then we’ll go from there,” Brailsford said in Boën-sur-Lignon before stage 5 of the Dauphiné.
“He’s being very well looked after. Our doctor [Richard Usher – ed.] is with him now and [Froome’s wife] Michelle is with him. We’ll keep monitoring the situation and see how it develops.
“From our various networks that we have, we try to quality assure what goes on and certainly the feedback we’ve been getting is that the work that’s been done is very, very good and he’s being looked after in an exemplary fashion. He’s onto this next phase of being in intensive care.”
Froome crashed heavily while reconnoitring the stage 4 time trial of the Dauphiné in the company of teammate Wout Poels. He was later airlifted to hospital in Saint-Étienne, and it was immediately apparent that his injuries would rule him out of the forthcoming Tour de France, where he was seeking to claim a record-equalling fifth overall win.
Brailsford that it was too soon to put a timeframe on Froome’s rehabilitation and eventual return to competition.
“First things first. For now, let’s just concentrate on today and getting him through today, and then tomorrow et cetera and see how this situation develops from there,” Brailsford said.
“The first thing in all these situations is to get that first stabilisation, that first phase of medical surgery done really and then go into the recovery process.”
Trying to refocus on the racing
In Froome’s absence, Wout Poels is the Ineos rider best placed to mount a general classification challenge at the Dauphiné. The Dutchman lies 11th overall after Wednesday’s time trial, 40 seconds behind Adam Yates.
“We’ve come in very much to support Chris on GC in this race and of course that changed in a nanosecond yesterday. So I think the question is then to repurpose [and ask] what does the rest of the week look like?” Brailsford said. “Wout is still 40 seconds off GC so I think he’s in a good position and we’ll keep on working with him.”
Earlier this week, Brailsford had suggested that Froome would be Ineos team leader at the Tour rather than defending champion Geraint Thomas or emerging talent Egan Bernal. Froome’s absence will inevitably change the hierarchy of the team in July.
“I think he had a terrific period just now in Tenerife,” Brailsford said of Froome. “He really was the best I’d seen him for a long time I must say. With a few final touches he’d have been really as good as we’ve seen him in the last couple of years going into the Tour. But it’s all hypothetical now, isn’t it? Now we’ll refocus on the rest of the team and make sure they’re ready for July.”