Chris Froome rides in Japan before heading to the rugby
Four-time Tour de France winner comes back after crash
Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome successfully completed his first competitive ride since his horror crash in June on Sunday before hot-tailing across Tokyo to watch the Rugby World Cup semifinal.
The 34-year-old took part in a team time-trial run round a single lap at the Saitama Criterium meet with 2019 Tour de France winner Egan Bernal and Ineos teammate Jonathan Castroviejo playing bodyguard.
The time trial was on the undercard for the main event, the Saitama Criterium, and Japanese ace Yukiya Arashiro soaked up local adulation after winning.
In the time trial, Froome led the trio out to enthusiastic applause from a Saitama public that the Briton had worked hard to win over last week with visits to schools and social events. The public relations exercise ended with Ineos rolling home second last as local cycling team Saitama Project won the time trial in 4min 20sec.
It was clear Froome’s right-leg was a long way off fitness, with surgery to remove a plate on his hip set for December. The Briton is still in recovery after sustaining dreadful injuries in June when he hit a brick wall at high speed, fracturing ribs, a femur, and an elbow after taking his hands off the handlebars to blow his nose.
Froome left quickly at the end of the race without talking to the media in order to get to Yokohama, around 60km away, in time for the kick-off of the Rugby World Cup semifinal between Wales and SA.
The Kenyan-born Froome went to school and university in SA and his wife is a South African of Welsh origin. After that game kicked off, Froome tweeted two photographs under the caption “We made it”.
One showed him grinning with SA rider Daryl Impey and the other showed the stadium with the teams on the pitch.
In the criterium, Arashiro won a gala-style race over 173.2km fan-packed laps of tight city streets, Bernal was second and world No 1 Primoz Roglic third, a metre or so adrift.
“I’m the first Japanese rider to win so maybe they’ll talk about me in 20 years. So happy. Really special,” said the seven-time Tour de France competitor.