Chris Froome has admitted he is lucky to be alive after speaking for the first time since his horror cycling accident.
The four-time Tour de France winner crashed at nearly 35mph during his fourth-stage reconnaissance of the Criterium du Dauphine on Wednesday.
Lying in his hospital bed, Froome also paid tribute to cycling fans following his life-threatening crash.
"I know how lucky I am to be here today and how much I owe to all the paramedics and medical staff on the race," said Froome in a post published on the Team Ineos website.
"Whilst this is a setback and a major one at that, I am focusing on looking forward. There is a long road to recovery ahead, but that recovery starts now and I am fully focused on returning back to my best."
The post was issued with a picture of Froome giving the thumbs up from his bed at the University Hospital of St Etienne where he underwent a six-hour operation.
It has been reported that the 34-year-old suffered a fractured neck and faces six weeks in hospital.
He also has a fractured right femur, a broken hip, a fractured elbow and fractured ribs and was in intensive care following the surgery. Froome is not expected to compete again this year.
"This is obviously a tough time but I have taken a lot of strength from the support over the last three days," he added.
"The outpouring of support has been really humbling and something I would never have expected."
Froome took his hand off his handlebars to blow his nose before a gust of wind destabilised his bike. He crashed into a wall and lost consciousness.
The Briton was airlifted to hospital where he has since been joined by his wife Michelle and Team Ineos doctor Richard Usher.
Froome added: "I'd also like to extend my gratitude to the team, especially Doctor Richard Usher and his medical staff, who have been exemplary since the crash.
"In addition, I am so thankful to the emergency services and everyone at Roanne Hospital who assisted and stabilised me, as well as the surgeons, doctors and nurses at the University Hospital of St Etienne, who have really gone above and beyond the call of duty, for which I am ever so grateful."