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Stricken Froome set to become Britain's first Grand Tour winner

 

Injuries: Chris Froome suffered horror crash in France
Injuries: Chris Froome suffered horror crash in France

By Ian Parker

Chris Froome stands to retrospectively become Britain's first Grand Tour winner and add a seventh title to his collection, all from his hospital bed in France where he is recovering from a horror crash which has ruled him out of the Tour de France.

While the Team Ineos rider recovered from an operation lasting around six hours to repair multiple fractures, world governing body the UCI announced that 2011 Vuelta a Espana winner Juan Jose Cobo had been found guilty of a doping violation.

Cobo, riding for Geox-TMC, beat Froome by 13 seconds, with fellow Team Sky rider Sir Bradley Wiggins third, one minute and 39 seconds down, but is now expected to be stripped of the title.

The UCI said Cobo had been found "guilty of an anti-doping violation (use of a prohibited substance) based on abnormalities from 2009 and 2011 detected in his Biological Passport" and ruled ineligible for a period of three years.

The 38-year-old Spaniard has one month in which he can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the ruling, but, should it stand, Froome is in line to become a two-time Vuelta winner.

If awarded the title, he will become Britain's first Grand Tour winner, beating Wiggins' 2012 Tour victory by 10 months, and add the title to his Tour de France wins in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, his Vuelta win in 2017, and the 2018 Giro d'Italia title.

A spokesperson for La Vuelta said organisers were awaiting the full ruling from the UCI before making a statement.

However, Froome is in no position to celebrate the potential win after his horror crash during his reconnaissance ahead of stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old underwent lengthy surgery overnight after suffering a broken femur and broken ribs in a high-speed crash on the time trial course. He remains in hospital in St Etienne, where he has been joined by his wife Michelle and Team Ineos doctor Richard Usher.

Speaking ahead of yesterday's stage five of the Dauphine, Ineos team principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: "He had surgery to repair his femur, his hip, his elbow.

"He's got broken ribs, a little bit of internal damage as well, so he's staying in intensive care for the next couple of days and then we'll go from there.

"He's being very well looked after. Our doctor is with him now and Michelle is with him. We'll keep monitoring the situation and see how it develops."

According to a full statement from Dr Usher issued later in the day, Froome's mind has already turned to the work of rehabilitation to come.

"Chris will remain in hospital for the next few days for observation, but he is already actively engaging in discussing his rehabilitation options, which is very encouraging," said Dr Usher in the statement.

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