Return to peloton is like second chance, says Froome

bFILE PHOTO: Tour de France

LONDON (Reuters) - Four-times Tour de France winner Chris Froome returns to the peloton this weekend saying it feels like "a second chance" after recovering from serious injuries sustained in a high-speed crash last year.

The 34-year-old Briton lines up at the start of the UAE Tour with Team Ineos in his first race since slamming into a wall during a training ride for last year's Criterium du Dauphine.

"It's all I've thought about for months now -- being back racing. It will be a huge relief just to be back in the peloton again," Froome told the team's website.

"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."

Froome was in a critical condition in hospital after the crash in June which left him with multiple fractures, including a broken right femur and a broken elbow.

He has slowly been building up his training volumes, including at the Ineos camp in Gran Canaria in January, but says he is not expecting to be fully up to speed in the seven-day race in the UAE.

"The year's gone incredibly well so far but having said that I do still need to manage expectations," Froome said.

"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.

"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."

Froome needs one more Tour de France victory to emulate the record shared by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)