Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome is in intensive care after crashing into a wall at 60km/h and breaking his femur, elbow and ribs.
The British cyclist was seriously injured during reconnaissance before stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine in France on Wednesday, and will now not line up for the start of next month’s Tour.
“It sounded like he was at the foot of the descent. It’s obviously very gusty today, and it sounds like he’s taken his hand off his bars to blow his nose and the wind has taken his front wheel,” Team INEOS leader Sir Dave Brailsford said.
“He’s hit a wall at 60km/h, or something like that.”
It was immediately feared the 34-year-old Brit had broken his leg in the crash. He was flown to a nearby hospital, where the other injuries were confirmed – and his hopes for a fifth Tour title this year were dashed.
“It’s a big crash this one,” Brailsford told the BBC.
“He’s not great, I think it’s fair to say.
“He’s fractured his femur, he’s broken his hip, he’s broken his elbow, he’s broken his ribs … But it’s a tough one, to be honest. He’s not in great shape.”
The extent of Froome’s injuries were revealed in a team statement on Wednesday.
“Team Ineos can confirm that Chris Froome sustained multiple serious injuries during a recon of stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine today,” it read.
“The 34-year-old crashed towards the end of his route recon in Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, sustaining injuries including a fractured right femur, a fractured elbow and fractured ribs.
“Froome has subsequently been ruled out of the rest of the race and will also miss the 2019 Tour de France.”
Brailsford praised Froome’s preparation for an attempt at winning his fifth Tour de France title.
“Our primary focus now is obviously on ensuring Chris gets the very best possible care, which he will do, so he can recover as soon as possible,” he said.
“Even though we all recognise the risks involved in our sport, it’s always traumatic when a rider crashes and sustains serious injuries.
“Chris had worked incredibly hard to get in fantastic shape and was on track for the Tour, which unfortunately he will now miss.”
Later on Wednesday, a tweet from Froome’s official account – signed MF, the initials of his wife Michelle – read: “Chris is in surgery at the moment to repair the multiple fractures, please keep him in your thoughts. I hope to be able to share a message from him tomorrow morning – MF.”
Chris is in surgery at the moment to repair the multiple fractures, please keep him in your thoughts. I hope to be able to share a message from him tomorrow morning – MF
— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) June 12, 2019
— Geraint Thomas (@GeraintThomas86) June 12, 2019
Froome was eighth in the overall classification after three stages of the eight-day Criterium du Dauphine, just 24 seconds behind leader Dylan Teuns. Fellow Briton Adam Yates is leading after the time trial stage.
The race was being used as part of Froome’s build-up to this year’s Tour de France, which starts on July 6.