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Chris Froome (Ineos) faces another operation in his long road to recovery.
Despite appearing on the bike again last week at the Saitama Criterium in Japan, where he rode in a time trial event, Froome said he still needs to undergo another surgery before returning to racing full-time next season.
“I had some pretty horrific injuries and I’ve still got to have another surgery,” Froome told Eurosport. “I’ve got to remove the metalwork in my hip and my elbow. It’s gone extremely well but I’ve got a long way to go and I’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Froome, 34, has defied expectations in his recovery from what he described as a “horror crash” in June while inspecting a route ahead of a time trial stage at the Critérium du Dauphiné. A high-speed impact left him with a litany of injuries, including broken bones in his hip, elbow, leg and ribs. Despite rumors that the injuries were so bad that it would end his career, Froome was back on the bike earlier than expected, riding with teammate Wout Poels in southern France earlier this month.
“It’s still very early days,” Froome said. “I’m not quite at that [full competitive racing] stage yet.”
Froome said he hopes to return to competitive racing by early 2020, perhaps with a start some time in February. The ultimate goal is to return to the Tour de France and try to win a record-tying fifth Tour de France title.
Froome downplayed any sort of rivalry with teammate and defending champion Egan Bernal going into next year’s Tour.
“It’s a brutal route,” Froome said. “It’s the hardest Tour route I’ve seen in the past five, six years. Nothing is decided for the Tour at the moment. I will try to get back to the level before I even discuss who will be the leader or whatever. But I’m going in the right direction, so I’m optimistic.”