Chris Froome will miss the Tour de France and the rest of 2019 — after smashing into a wall at 40mph while blowing his nose.
Britain’s four-times winner of the Yellow Jersey was airlifted to hospital with multiple injuries – including a broken leg, broken elbow and fractured ribs – after a crash that shook cycling.
Froome’s wife, Michelle, rushed to his bedside in St Etienne, where he is expected to undergo further scans and tests in the next 24 hours.
She tweeted: “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.”
Froome, 34, was winding up for an assault on a record-equalling fifth title on Le Tour at the warm-up Criterium du Dauphine when he came to grief on a high-speed downhill stretch while scouting the 16-mile time trial course in Roanne.
His Team Ineos principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, admitted it was a “very bad” crash, saying: “He was in a very, very serious condition and he could hardly speak.
“It sounds like he was at the foot of the descent, and it’s obviously very gusty today, and he took his hands off the bars to blow his nose. It’s very gusty today and the wind has taken his front wheel.
“He’s hit a wall at 60km an hour, something like that. It is clear that he will not take the start of the Tour de France, this wound will ask for a long time to heal.”
Ineos staff praised the swift response from French medical teams and team doctor Richard Usher said: “I would like to commend the treatment Chris received from emergency services and all at Roanne Hospital for assessing and stabilising him.”
Team-mate and defending Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas tweeted: “Such c*** news. It’s always horrible hearing about any bad crash, but even worse when it’s a good mate. Heal up quick!”
Froome’s injuries, which will almost certainly rule him out of the world championships in Yorkshire in September, stunned Tour de France organisers.
Twelve months ago they were trying to ban him from the race over his unresolved salbutamol case, but director Christian Prudhomme admitted: “We hope he gets well soon. The Tour de France won’t be the same without him.”
In five of the last seven years, the winner of the Dauphine has gone on to also take the Tour De France title – with Froome doing so three times himself.
Froome was eighth in the overall classification after three stages of the eight-day race, just 24 seconds behind leader Dylan Teuns.
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