LONDON (AFP) - Chris Froome is positive he can get back to his best on a bike despite suffering multiple fractures in a high-speed crash that has ruled him out of the Tour de France.
Froome, 34, was airlifted to hospital in Saint-Etienne for emergency surgery after slamming into a wall at high speed during practice on Wednesday ahead of the fourth stage of the Criterium du Dauphine race in central France.
The force of the impact fractured his pelvis, right femur, hip, right elbow and left him with broken ribs.
Froome will miss out on a chance to win a record-equalling fifth Tour title next month, but after successful surgery there is hope he could return to cycling in six months.
"Whilst this is a setback and a major one at that, I am focusing on looking forward. There is a long road to recovery ahead, but that recovery starts now and I am fully focused on returning back to my best," Froome said in a statement given by Team Ineos.
"This is obviously a tough time but I have taken a lot of strength from the support over the last three days. The outpouring of support has been really humbling and something I would never have expected."
Froome was travelling at around 50kmh when a gust of wind hurtled him towards a wall after he momentarily took his hand off the handlebars to blow his nose.
In thanking the medical care he has received, the British rider also acknowledged he was lucky that his injuries were not even more severe.
"I know how lucky I am to be here today and how much I owe to all the paramedics and medical staff on the race," added Froome.
"I'd also like to extend my gratitude to the Team, especially Doctor Richard Usher and his medical staff, who have been exemplary since the crash.
"In addition, I am so thankful to the emergency services and everyone at Roanne Hospital who assisted and stabilised me, as well as the surgeons, doctors and nurses at the University Hospital of St Etienne, who have really gone above and beyond the call of duty, for which I am ever so grateful."