Details surrounding Chris Froome's horror crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné are still being pieced together by Team Ineos after the rider crashed at high speed and suffered multiple injuries but for Dan Martin, who was just behind the incident, the effects have left an indelible mark.
The Irishman was just twenty metres behind the Team Ineos vehicle that was following Froome and Wout Poels during the recon of Wednesday's Dauphiné time trial. Martin was studying the time trail course from the UAE Team Emirates team car and he left shaken by what he saw. Even on Thursday morning was emotional when he began to talk about what he had witnessed. He and Froome ride for different teams and clash in Grand Tours but there is also mutual respect and empathy for each other that goes far deeper than any rivalry.
"I keep seeing it. It's horrible to see something like that as well," Martin told Cyclingnews ahead of stage 5 at the Dauphiné.
"Me and Neil [Neil Stephens the UAE Team Emirates director who followed Martin during the recon - ed.] caught them just before the top of the climb and we didn't want to mess up their recon so we stayed behind them on the recon and didn't want to get in the way. Then it happened."
What we now know is that Froome took a hand off his time trial bars in order to clear his nose. As he did a strong gust of wind took out his front wheel and at high speed, he lost control and slammed into a wall of a house. He was on the ground for several hours as he received emergency medical treatment before being airlifted to hospital. He underwent eight hours of surgery during Wednesday night and remains in intensive care. He was left with internal injuries, a fractured right elbow, a compound fractured right femur and several fractured ribs.
"We stopped," Martin said, recalling his shock.
"Neil and I looked at each other in stunned silence and just stood there for 20 seconds, just shaking. I stayed by the team car and we asked if there was anything we could do but I thought it could have been much worse. I thought he could have been dead. To see something like that isn't pleasant.
"He blew his nose, the wind caught him and then he veered out in front of the team car. We didn't see what happened but we saw him hit the wall. He didn't have any chance to lose any speed. We didn't want to say anything yesterday out of respect for Chris and his family. It was up to Ineos to say what they needed.
"Refocusing after that was not an easy task. I was thinking about it last night and I'm still replaying it in my head. It's very, very unpleasant."
Martin added that the accident could have happened to any rider at any time and recalled a similar incident that occurred to him.
"It just shows how dangerous cycling can be. Not just what we're doing, but for anybody. That could have happened to anyone. It was a freak accident, with a freak gust of wind. It's happened to me in training but at a much slower speed. I once took my hand off the bars to take off an arm-warmer and the wind caught me and I was down. Chris is really unfortunate."
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