Accidents & Misfortune Take Centre Stage Ahead of 2019 Tour de France

After crashing into a wall at high speed in the French town of Roanne recently, the multiple serious injuries suffered by Chris Froome are a timely reminder that in the world of professional cycling, the fortunes of competitive riders can change in an instant.

Froome was left with a fractured neck, a fractured right femur, fractured ribs and a broken hip, following the unfortunate collision during his fourth-stage reconnaissance of the Critérium du Dauphiné. The 34-year-old was rushed to the University hospital of St-Étienne, where he underwent an urgent six-hour operation and continues his long road to recovery. The four-time Tour de France champion is now expected to be out of action for at least six months.

Convinced that the fighting spirit of Froome will see him make a full recovery, along with a return to the road and competitive racing, Team Ineos principal Sir Dave Brailsford spoke about the importance of rider safety to the Guardian, believing that the sport in general should always be willing to focus on this aspect. “I think when major incidents happen like this it does make you sit back and think about safety,” he admitted.

Troubling Time for Team Ineos

Having won the famous race four times in the last six years, Froome was inevitably one of the 2019 Tour de France favourites for cycling experts, although keen followers and fans of the sport will now be looking at which other riders can rise to the challenge. Geraint Thomas won the 2018 Tour and will be hoping for a repeat performance this year, now that he assumes the leadership of Team Ineos in the absence of his illustrious teammate.

However, after being installed as the new favourite to win La Grande Boucle and defend his title, misfortune has also struck for Thomas and almost presented another blow for Team Ineos. The 33-year-old from Cardiff crashed heavily during the 4th stage of the Tour de Suisse near Arlesheim, suffering abrasions to his shoulder and a nasty cut above his right eye. Amidst initial fears of a head injury, Thomas was subsequently withdrawn from that race.

Team Ineos are still expected to dominate at the Tour de France, even without Froome at the helm, given that Thomas should recover fully ahead of the event commencing on Saturday 6th July in Brussels. Meanwhile, teammate Egan Bernal is now considered to be a major contender, continuing his phenomenal rise in the sport and having made an excellent recovery from an injury of his own while training in Andorra, which left him with a broken collarbone.

The Race for Tour Readiness

Team Ineos riders aren’t the only ones to have suffered important setbacks, as leading professional cyclists prepare for the Tour de France. After crashing out of the Giro d’Italia 2019, Team Sunweb have serious concerns for Tom Dumoulin according to cyclingweekly reports. The Dutchman abandoned the Critérium du Dauphiné after struggling to compete, then cancelled high altitude training in the Alps. Ultimately, the Giro-winner of 2017 is out of the Tour de France.

In the meantime, misfortunes for other riders has led to Jakob Fuglsang now being considered as a genuine contender to win the Tour de France. Winning the Dauphiné would suggest that preparations with Team Astana have been ideal for the 34-year-old, with the Swiss-born Danish cyclist arguably at the peak of his career.

Continued success could also prove to be very lucrative for Fuglsang, amidst speculation of a potential move to Team Movistar ahead the 2020 season. He will certainly be one to watch when the Tour begins and given events affecting other cyclists, this could prove to be just the right moment to take advantage and make his mark.

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