Four-time champion Chris Froome has been ruled out of this year's Tour de France after a heavy crash in the Criterium du Dauphine.
Froome was taken to hospital with a reported broken femur after crashing heavily during a reconnaissance ride ahead of the day’s 26.1km time-trial course in Roanne, France.
The double Olympic medallist was eighth in the Criterium general classification and building up form for Team Ineos, with this setback delaying his chase of a record-equalling fifth Tour victory until at least next year.
“He crashed in the downhill section of the course at high speed. He hit a wall,” said team principal Dave Brailsford.
“The ambulance came quickly, he’s been taken care of and waits for a helicopter to be transferred to Lyon or Saint-Etienne.
“It’s a very serious accident. Clearly, he won’t be at the start of the Tour de France. It’ll take quite a long time before he races again.”
The 34-year-old claimed Tour victories in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 and had been using the Criterium as part of his build-up to this year’s race, which starts on July 6.
Writing on Froome’s Twitter account, his wife Michelle said: “Chris is on his way to hospital after a high speed crash during the route recon earlier this afternoon, injuries are yet to be confirmed.”