Chris Froome is in intensive care and will miss the Tour de France after sustaining multiple fractures when crashing into a wall at speed on Wednesday.
The four-time Tour champion is in a St Etienne hospital after suffering a broken femur, a broken elbow and broken ribs during his reconnaissance ahead of stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine.
It was immediately feared the 34-year-old had broken his leg and, after being taken to a local hospital, further injuries were confirmed as his hopes of a fifth Tour title this year were dashed.
Froome’s wife Michelle confirmed on Twitter that, following a transfer to St Etienne, he was undergoing surgery later in the day.
“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,” she posted on Froome’s account.
Team Ineos team principal Sir Dave Brailsford later told Radio 5 Live’s BeSpoke podcast that Froome was “not in great shape”.
“He’s in intensive care in Saint Etienne hospital now,” he said.
“He’s been operated on to make sure that first phase of medical care is as optimal as possible and we will manage it from there. It’s an evolving situation. It is concerning, there is no doubt about that.
“There are crashes and bad crashes and this was a bad crash.”
The extent of Froome’s injuries was revealed in a team statement on Wednesday evening.
“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 explained what had happened that caused Froome to suffer such major injuries.
Describing the incident, the principal told the BBC: “He came down a technical descent and on to a straighter piece of road with houses either side. He signalled to (team-mate) Wout (Poels) that he was going to clear his nose, he took his hand off the bar to do that and a gust of wind took his front wheel, he lost control and went straight into the wall of a house.
“We have had a look at his data, he went from 54kmh to a dead stop.”
Froome was eighth in the overall classification after three stages of the eight-day race, just 24 seconds behind leader Dylan Teuns, with fellow Briton Adam Yates now 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.
The Tour is only three-and-a-half weeks away and Froome’s preparations this season had been built around peaking for the race as he looked to join an elite group of just four riders to have won five Tour titles.