"Steff, if you get back to a level that allows you to ride the Tour, we will always take you with us" - TotalEnergies show big faith in Steff Cras after Itzulia Crash

Steff Cras wrote one of the many Itzulia Basque Country crash comeback stories at last week's Tour of Slovenia. And while whole cycling world follows tightly the return of superstars Jonas Vingegaard and Remco Evenepoel, the TotalEnergies leader may have slipped under the radar.

The 28-year-old suffered perhaps one of the worst injuries (together with Jay Vine) and so it was a bit of a surprise that just two months after the fall, he was able to return in competitive shape in Slovenia. The diagnosis (a perforated lung, a broken rib and 8 broken transverse processe) back then didn't sound very optimistic towards Tour de France. "The first half minute I couldn't breathe and I thought I was suffocating. I thought it was over," Cras admitted to Sporza.

The Belgian had to wait 3 weeks before he could sleep in his own familiar bed again. "But physically I continued to work hard after that crash," Cras admits. "I pushed my body hard to get back to normal as quickly as possible."

And the hard work bore fruits as Cras climbed with the best climbers in Slovenia last week. "I rode at a level that I did not expect," beams Cras, who was also a bit disappointed to have finished only 9th overall.

Despite that heavy fall in the Basque Country, his team never doubted Cras would be ready for Tour. "The week after my fall, the team called me. They said: 'Steff, if you get back to a level that allows you to ride the Tour, we will always take you with us. Just prepare without pressure and stress.'"

However Cras' ​​Tour ambitions have been scaled back somewhat due to that nasty fall. "Before the start of the season I said I wanted to finish as close to the top 10 as possible. But after everything that has happened this season, that may or may not be too optimistic."

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