Chris Froome remained in a serious condition on Thursday after the horror crash that left one of his great rivals, Dan Martin, fearing he was dead.
The four-times Tour de France winner regained consciousness after six hours of surgery early this morning and was awake and watching television on Thursday afternoon.
But concern remains for his welfare over the next 48 hours because of bruising to his lungs. After hitting a wall at close to 40mph during a training ride on Wednesday, Froome was left with fractured ribs as well as fractured femur and a broken elbow, with Team INEOS boss Sir Dave Brailsford revealing there had been ‘internal damage’ too.
On Thursday evening, Team INEOS confirmed Froome’s six-hour surgery was successful.
‘Chris woke up this morning and was reviewed by the intensive care consultants and the orthopaedic specialist who operated on him and they’re both very happy with his progress to date,’ Doctor Richard Usher said.
The 34-year-old will remain in hospital for the next few days as he begins the road to recovery. He will release a statement in the coming days.
Froome’s mood may well be lifted by the astonishing news that while he was under sedation in intensive care in a French hospital he may well have chalked up a seventh Grand Tour win.
The Union Cycliste Internationale issued a statement saying that Juan Jose Cobo, who beat second-placed Froome in the 2011 Vuelta a Espana, had been found guilty of doping offences between 2009 and 2011.
Cobo can appeal the decision but he if he is eventually stripped of the Vuelta title, Froome would actually become the first Briton to win a Grand Tour ahead of Sir Bradley Wiggins.
On Thursday, however, the major concern remained the health of 34-year-old Froome as the shocking details of his accident emerged.
Martin was in a team vehicle that was behind the Team INEOS car that was following Froome and Wout Poels during the recon of Wednesday’s Criterium du Dauphine time trial.
‘I keep seeing it,’ said the Irishman, as reported by Cycling News. ‘It’s horrible to see something like that.
‘We stopped. Neil (Stephens) 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.’
Froome is expected to stay in intensive care for at least two more days. On Thursday Brailsford said: ‘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.
‘He’s being very well looked after. Our doctor is with him now and Michelle is with him. We’ll keep monitoring the situation as see how it develops.
‘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.’
Brailsford said Froome’s data showed he went from 55 kilometres (correct speed) per hour ‘to a dead stop’ as he struck a wall on a descent.
The news about Cobo broke while Froome was watching the Dauphine on TV. A statement from the UCI said: ‘The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announces that the UCI Anti-Doping Tribunal has rendered its decision in the case involving Juan José Cobo Acebo.
‘The Anti-Doping Tribunal found the retired rider guilty of an anti-doping rule violation (Use of a prohibited substance) based on abnormalities from 2009 and 2011 detected in his Biological Passport* and imposed a three-year period of ineligibility on the rider. In accordance with the Procedural Rules of the Anti-Doping Tribunal, the decision will be published on the UCI website in due course.
‘The decision may be appealed before the Court of Arbitration for Sport pursuant to Article 30.2 of the UCI Anti-Doping Tribunal Procedural Rules and Article 74 of the UCI Constitution within one month as of today.
‘At this stage of the procedure, the UCI will no make any further comments.’