Chris Froome’s team-mate Geraint Thomas believes the injuries the four-time Tour de France champion suffered in a horrific crash last week could have been “a hell of a lot worse”.

Froome suffered extensive injuries when his bike hit a wall at almost 35mph last Wednesday during his fourth-stage reconnaissance of the Criterium du Dauphine.

He is recovering at the University Hospital of St Etienne where he underwent a six-hour operation, having fractured his right femur and suffered a broken hip, a fractured elbow and fractured ribs, while it was also reported he fractured his neck.

“It’s scary. It’s never nice to hear, especially when it’s a close friend. It sounds horrific really,” Thomas said in an interview with BBC Sport Wales.

“It sounds like he was lucky to come away with the damage he’s done really. It could’ve been a hell of a lot worse, which I guess is a positive in a bad scenario.

“But he’s got the best care around him so hopefully he can get back on the bike soon.

“I’ve sent him a couple of messages but I’m sure he’s got a few to get through. The whole team’s behind him.”

New Year Honours List 2019
2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas says Chris Froome could have suffered worse injuries in last week’s crash (Chris Wallis/PA)

Thomas last year beat Froome to win the Tour and the latter’s injuries mean the debate over which of the two will be Team Ineos’ lead rider in France next month is over.

“It just stops all those questions,” added Thomas.

“Every interview I’ve done this year, they’ve asked about that. That’s one thing everyone can stop asking me now.

“Being the leader of the team, I’ve led the team numerous times now and I’ve got used to that role.”