in intensive care.
After Chris Froome’s horrific crash during a recce for the Criterium du Dauphine time trial comes the news that JJ Cobo, winner of the 2011 Vuelta has been retrospectively banned, provisionally handing Froome the title.
If it is confirmed, if Cobo doesn’t appeal or fails in an appeal Chris Froome would become the first Brit to win a Grand Tour title and the winner of seven in total. Two Vueltas, one Giro and four Tours de France.
Of course after the crash in France many will speculate if it will be Froome’s last Grand Tour title.
He’s definitely out of this year’s remaining two after a crash that has left Dan martin shaken as he thought Froome could have died. Following on his own recce the Irishman saw the wind take Froome’s time trial bike and slam him into the wall, when he was doing 54 km/h, leaving the Ineos rider with a broken femur, a compound fracture apparently, elbow, ribs a damaged hip and some internal damage, losing 2.5 litres of blood.
Luckily for Froome his accident happened close to a parked ambulance, so he received immediate medical attention. Either six or eight hours on the operating table then followed, depending on which source you listen to. Apparently Froome, even in intensive care, is talking about the future, getting back on his bike and getting back to racing.
That alone and what you imagine the drive that Froome has, which he’s had to have to win all those Grand Tours, would suggest he will be back but it’ll be a hell of fight, he’ll be 35 come next May. Which doesn’t make it any easier.
It would be a crying shame if he never gets the chance to match that five Tour victories to stand alongside Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault and Indurain.
Being handed the 2011 Vuelta wouldn’t make up for that but it does bring a strange situation. If he is given the title then Froome will be the first British winner of a Grand Tour as it came the year before Bradley Wiggins took his Tour victory. Froome was probably only in that 2012 race because of his success in Spain the previous August, where he could have quite easily have won the title, after coming in as a late replacement to be be a domestique for Wiggo. He could quite easily have won that race, he did wear the red jersey. He was working for Wiggins, which didn’t help him, in a situation that would be mirrored in the successful 2012 Tour. While Cobo’s winning margin was just 13 seconds, a margin created by the number of bonus seconds Cobo picked up over the race.
But ultimately it was the open stage that cost Froome the title. The team time trail around Benidorm. Sky were one of the favourites but were a complete shambles, all over the place, they were down to four men when the time was taken on the fifth rider across the line. They came in 20th of the 22 teams taking part, some 42 seconds down. Cobo’s team were 21st. So a better TTT would have seen Froome victorious.
What would that have done? Froome was about to be dropped by Sky before he showed what he could do in Spain. If he’d won, where would that have left Wiggins? Would Wiggo have led the team in France? Would it be Sir Bradley? Who would be SPotY winner?
If Froome is handed the title, it’ll move him up to joint fourth on the all time list of Grand Tour winners alongside Contador, Indurain and Coppi. Behind Anquetil (8), Hinault (10) and Merckx (11).
Let’s hope he can return and return in the type of form that does justice to a man in such company…