Chris Froome says “it will be a huge relief just to be back in the peloton” next week in the UAE Tour, eight months after he suffered devastating injuries in a high-speed crash.
The four-time Tour de France winner fractured a thigh, elbow and vertebrae in the career-threatening accident during a Criterium du Dauphine practice ride in June last year.
After intensive rehab he is ready to take the next step towards trying to secure a record-equalling fifth Tour title in July.
“The year’s gone incredibly well so far but having said that I do still need to manage expectations,” he told his Team Ineos website on Friday.
“I’m still quite a way off where I was at the Dauphine before the crash. It’s going to take me a while to get back to that shape.”
Froome said a return to racing had been all he had thought about “for months now”.
“It will be a huge relief just to be back in the peloton again,” he said. “It feels like I’ve been given a second chance to come back to pro racing after a crash like that. I’m definitely not taking that for granted.”
In November, the Briton had his final surgery to remove screws and a large metal plate from his right hip, allowing him to resume full training.
Last month he took part in his team’s official training camp on Gran Canaria.
He said his focus had been on building his training volume and strength in his right leg.
“It’s been exciting to see the progress week-on-week.
“It’s been great to be back doing the normal sessions with the guys and actually being able to get through the workload again.
“I’ve still got to work on the strength of the leg which was injured but that’s already improving quickly.”
The seven-day UAE Tour starts in Dubai on Sunday, and Froome regards it as ideal place to resume his day job.
“It should be a good place for me to test out my legs and get back in the peloton again.
“Hopefully I can do a job for the team and we can try and get the best result possible.”