Chris Froome will return stronger and better – Owain Doull

Chris Froome

Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome will return to racing “stronger and even better”, says Team Ineos team-mate Owain Doull.

Froome, 34, suffered multiple fractures, including his neck, in a crash in France on Wednesday.

He is expected to be out of action for at least six months.

“Chris’ accident has hit home a lot with the team and just highlights the risks everyone puts themselves at when they’re racing,” Welshman Doull said.

“It’s really shocking. It’s not a nice thing to see, especially with a team-mate and a friend. But that’s one thing with Froomey for sure – he will come back stronger and even better.”

Team Ineos’ Luke Rowe suffered a serious leg break in a white-water rafting accident in August 2017, but returned to play a key part in helping Geraint Thomas win the 2018 Tour de France, a role he had taken for Froome in his 2015, 2016 and 2017 victories.

“A really good example is Luke. He had a pretty bad accident when he broke his leg and now he’s back racing with the support of the team and what the whole medical staff did for him,” 26-year-old Doull told BBC Sport Wales.

“He’s arguably even better than he was before and that’s the good thing with the team – there’ll be no pressure, no stress to come back at any stage.

“It’s just about making sure he’s fit and healthy as a person and go from there.”

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Doull is not expecting to claim a place in the Team Ineos squad for the Tour de France in July, but says he could get a chance at one of the other Grand Tours – probably the Vuelta a Espana rather than the Giro d’Italia.

“That’s my ambition to break into these teams more regularly and try and start a Grand Tour this year,” said Doull, before day two of the Tour de Suisse.

“It obviously wouldn’t be the Tour but hopefully the Vuelta; the Classics are still equally important for me.

“Luke is someone I look up to a lot and he does it perfectly – has full focus for the Classics and as soon as they finish he switches his focus across to the stage racing and does the Tour every year.

“That’s a route I’d like to follow but baby steps at the minute.”

Having joined Thomas and Rowe in the Team Ineos ranks – then Team Sky – in 2016, Doull is proud of the Welsh influence in the squad as it prepares for the start of the Tour on 6 July.

With Froome out, defending champion Thomas is likely to be team leader, although he could share that role jointly with Egan Bernal, as he did with Froome in 2018.

“With it being G’s [Thomas] last race before the Tour, and the same for Egan as well, it’s always going to be a more important race,” Doull added.

“It’s nice to be involved and it’s the first time I’ve raced this year with both Luke and G in the same race, so it’s always nice to try and up the majority of the team Welsh.

“You almost take it for granted a bit, especially now across the World Tour stuff you’ve got Scott Davies at Dimension [Data] – he’s just done the Giro d’Italia – Stevie Williams at Bahrain [Merida] as well.

“When I started cycling growing up it was just G on the World Tour and then Luke made the transition across as well, then myself and the other two guys. It’s pretty cool.”

(From left) Chris Froome of Team Ineos, Christopher Lawless of Team Ineos in the blue jersey and Owain Doull of Team Ineos

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