Froome suffered multiple fractures and was hospitalised following a crash on a recon ride before Stage 4 of the Criterium du Dauphine on Wednesday, with his season now in doubt.
The news spread quickly to former team-mate turned Grand Tour rival Porte, who is also competing at the Dauphine ahead of his own Tour title bid with new team Trek-Segafredo.
“You don’t wish this to happen to anyone. Even if he’s a rival, he has still got a wife and two young kids at home. There’s also a very human element to that,” said Porte. “I wish Chris the very best and a speedy recovery.”
Porte has previously competed for incarnations of Team Ineos, which until May operated as Sky, supporting Froome to two of his four Tour title victories (2013, 2015) and Bradley Wiggins in 2012.
The Australian left the squad at the end of the 2015 season to realise his own potential as a Grand Tour contender first at BMC and now Trek-Segafredo.
The shock loss of Froome, who was aiming for a record equalling fifth Tour title next month, is devastating but not necessarily disastrous for Ineos.
Team principal David Brailsford has defending champion Geraint Thomas and potentially Egan Bernal to call on. Bernal made his Tour debut as a rookie pro last season. His MVP performance in the mountains earned the young Colombian a protected role at the Giro d’Italia this year, which he ultimately didn’t start due to injury.
“Let’s not forget G [Thomas] is still the defending champion, and they have got Bernal there too. But I guess it changes the dynamics indeed,” Porte observed.
Trek-Segafredo sports director Steven de Jongh had anticipated Froome to play a hand at the Dauphine, following a quiet start to the season. The 34-year-old didn’t figure on debut at the Tour Colombia or the Volta a Catalunya. He finished 11th overall at the Tour of the Alps and 13th at the Tour de Yorkshire, prior to the Dauphine.
“We didn’t see a lot of him so far, so coming into the Tour de France I think he wants to show himself. I think this is the race for him to show himself. I think he’s one of the big favourites,” de Jongh had said.
Ineos has strength in depth and has won six out of the past seven editions of the Tour. Vincenzo Nibali claimed the 2014 race, which Froome withdrew from due to injury on a rain-soaked day to Arenberg. Porte that season was 2IC to Froome at Sky, but the situation was and can be more complex than moving each rider one up the procession to deliver a podium result.