(Reuters) – Chris Froome said he laughs off suggestions from critics that he should retire and believes he is slowly getting back to his best after multiple injuries suffered in a crash two years ago.
Froome spent more than three weeks in hospital after breaking his neck, femur, elbow, hip and ribs in a high-speed crash in the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine but the Briton has made a full recovery.
The four-times Tour de France champion, who left Ineos-Grenadiers for Israel-Start Up Nation during the close season, came 81st overall in the Tour of Catalunya in March and some social media users said he should end his career.
“Over the last couple of races people said: ‘Hang up your bike, you’re done, you’re finished’. It just makes me laugh – those people don’t know how bad my injuries were,” Froome said in a video posted on YouTube.
“They don’t know how far I have come to get back to professional racing. They clearly don’t know me as a person – I’m not just going to hang it up. I know I can get there.”
Froome, 35, was not part of the Tour last year after being left out of the Ineos-Grenadiers squad but is expected to line up with his new team this year.
He said earlier in the year that he could see himself racing into his 40s.
“Even though I haven’t been showing much up front, I feel the intensity of being in the peloton is helping me. Being in the wheels… is beginning to feel a bit easier,” Froome said.
“At Catalunya… I felt completely out of my depth. I’m starting to feel progression and starting to feel better on the bike. I’m not going to throw in the towel.
“The more of those messages that come my way, the more it’s going to spur me on and motivate me to do even more.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)