Speedy recovery could help Froome race at Tour de France

PARIS (AP) — Four months after a career-threatening high-speed crash left him with multiple fractures, Chris Froome has resumed training in the hope that he can compete for a record-equaling fifth Tour de France title.

Still a bit shaky on his feet, the Team Ineos leader attended the 2020 race presentation on Tuesday alongside teammate Egan Bernal, the 22-year-old prodigy from Colombia who became the Tour champion while Froome was in his sick bed.

“I’m on the road to recovery still,” Froome said. “I’ve made it back onto the bike in this last month, which has been fantastic. I’m heading in the right direction.”

In June, just a few weeks before the Tour start, Froome hit a wall during a training ride as he geared up for cycling’s biggest race. He underwent a six-hour operation after breaking his right femur, elbow and several ribs in the crash that ended his season.

“I’ve still got a plate on my hip that needs to get removed soon, and once that comes off I think things will start to improve a little bit faster,” Froome said.

Froome, who won the Tour de France in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, could join an elite club of four riders with five Tour victories, including Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

But time could be a factor for the Kenyan-born athlete. Now 34, Froome has no guarantees he will be able to fully recover, and he is facing strong competition within his own team with Bernal and Geraint Thomas, the Welshman who dethroned Froome at the 2018 Tour.

“We’ve got an amazing line up, an amazing roster of riders to select from,” Froome said. “There is nothing decided yet. For me, personally, I have obviously to get myself back to that level before even discussing leadership, or anything like that. At least, for now, everything is going the right direction. I’m optimistic.”

In his quest for a fifth title, Froome won’t be helped by the race route, which features only 36 kilometers of time trials, a specialty he excelled at before his crash.

“But there will be a lot of opportunities, really, for the general classification to play out,” he said. “It should be an exciting Tour.”

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