SAITAMA (Japan): 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 his way across Tokyo to watch the Rugby World Cup semi-final.
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 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 this week with visits to schools and social events.
The PR 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 60 kilometres away in time for the kick-off of the Rugby World Cup semi-final between Wales and South Africa.
The Kenyan-born Froome went to school and university in South Africa while his wife is a South African of Welsh origin, although he was coy about who he was supporting. – AFP