Full extent of Chris Froome's injuries revealed following horror crash

Last Wednesday morning Chris Froome
and the Team Ineos squad arrived in the outskirts of the French commune of Roanne. 
After three days of dreary rain the sun was finally out and the mood appeared relaxed as staff set up bikes and gave the equipment one final inspection. There was nothing to warn of the traumas to come.
June's Criterium du Dauphine is France
's second most prestigious stage race after the Tour de France
, and Froome — a three-time winner of the week-long event — came into the race in superb form after a subdued start to the season. But the significant litmus test for his form always lay in Wednesday's stage four time-trial.
Froome had a late time-trial start time of 3.44pm and before the first rider sets off in a time-trial the roads are open for the entire field to recon the route.
According to directeur sportif, Servais Knaven, Froome had not ridden the Roanne time-trial in training and had only studied the profile through maps. Viewing the route in person and on the bike was a crucial part of preparation.
As the buzz around the start line began to intensify, the Team Ineos riders clambered down the steps of the team bus. Dutch rider Wout Poels chatted to a team mechanic about some last-minute changes, Dylan van Baarle marvelled over the slick new paint job his Pinarello time-trial bike had received, before Froome himself came out.
With him and Poels starting the time-trial just minutes apart, it was decided they would ride the course together and they were the last two riders to leave the paddock. As he soft-pedalled away, Froome flashed a smile to some of the local fans.
Roughly an hour later the first whisperings of a crash began to filter through. Normally there's an immediate sense as to whether an incident is serious or not. 
It could be down to the tone of someone's voice or their look as they provide the details, but as information began to come to light it was clear that Froome had suffered a serious fall. 
Towards the end of his ride, and, on what is an innocuous stretch of road, Froome took a hand from his handlebars to clear his nose. 
Froome and Poels had just reached the point where the main descent on the route started to bottom out.
They were still travelling at speed but until that point the wind had been relatively calm. The pair had just left a sheltered part of the course at the exact moment Froome chose to raise his hand. 
Within a blink of an eye a strong gust of wind took away his control and without dropping any speed Froome slammed into a wall. His bike computer told the story. He had been travelling at 54kph (33mph) and then made a dead stop.
As Froome lay on the ground Poels immediately slowed. He knew how bad the impact had been. Luckily a race doctor was sitting, eating her lunch just 50 yards away and her efforts were crucial in the first minutes after the crash. 
Soon after an ambulance was on hand, plus a local resident who helped, holding a drip for Froome, who lay dazed and confused on the ground, asking: 'What happened, what happened?'
He would remain on the roadside for the next two hours and is lucky to be alive, as he admitted on Friday.
Froome's body, rather than his head, took the initial force of the impact and a source close to the team said: 'I dread to think what would have happened if his head had hit the wall first, not his body.'
Back at the Team Ineos bus, the crowds began to gather, journalists and fans aware through social media that Froome had suffered a major crash.  
If the fall had been minor he would have returned to the bus for treatment but the only traces of him were his broken bike and helmet in a team car.
Eventually, Ineos team boss Sir Dave Brailsford left the bus. Visibly upset and in shock, he relayed the facts as he had them. 
Froome's wife, Michelle, had been informed; an ambulance had luckily been close; there is a suspected fracture to Froome's right femur; and that, after an emergency trip to the local hospital in Roanne, Froome had been airlifted to Saint Etienne.
As the shock of the events began to sink in some of Froome's rivals began to open up about what they had seen. 
Irish rider Daniel Martin, who was 20 metres behind Froome when the crash occurred, was left in a state of shock by what he saw.
'Neil Stephens [Martin's team director] and I looked at each other in stunned silence and just stood there for 20 seconds, just shaking,' he said. 
'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 saw him hit the wall. He didn't have any chance to lose any speed.'
As the hours unfolded more details emerged. Froome was in intensive care after six hours of surgery, losing two litres of blood. It seemed as though medics were finding fresh injuries with every examination. 
By the next morning it was confirmed that Froome had 'internal injuries', bruising to his lungs, compound fractures to his right leg and elbow and an injured hip. By Friday evening a fractured neck and sternum had been added.
Froome will spend up to six weeks in hospital as he starts the long road to recovery, his quest for a record-equalling fifth Tour de France title shelved for at least one more year.
Doctors say that the 34-year-old can make a full recovery, but that remains to be seen and it's far too early to put timelines on when and if Froome will return to the high echelons of the sport. What's clear is that he now faces the greatest challenge of his career.
 
Daniel Benson is Editor-in-chief for Cyclingnews.com
 
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