Chris Froome's future in doubt after breaking leg in horror crash
Chris Froome's hopes of securing a record-equalling fifth Tour de France title next month are over, and his chances of ever winning the race again must now be in doubt, after the 34-year-old broke his leg, elbow and ribs in a horrific 60kmph crash before stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine yesterday.
The four-time Tour champion, who had been hoping to draw level with Jacques Anqutetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain as the joint most successful rider in the race's 116-year history, smashed into a wall after reportedly taking his hands off his handlebars to "blow his nose" towards the bottom of a descent.
He was immediately ruled out of next month's Tour, with his team Ineos later confirming multiple injuries including a fractured right femur, a fractured elbow and fractured ribs.
Froome will be 35 by the time of next year's race and only one man - 36 year-old Firmin Lambot in 1922 - has ever won the race aged 35 or older. Froome was riding his time trial bike at the time of the crash, doing reconnaissance ahead of the 26.1km time trial with team-mate Wout Poels. The six-time grand tour winner also crashed while riding his TT bike in practice ahead of last year's Giro d'Italia prologue in Jerusalem, although on that occasion he escaped with cuts and bruises and was able to come back and win the race.
Eyewitnesses said Froome did not move for some time as he was treated by ambulance crew, with Cyclingtips.com quoting eye-witnesses as saying that the fracture was "open".
Ineos team principal Dave Brailsford admitted straight away that the crash was "very serious.
"He crashed in the downhill section of the course at high speed," Brailsford told reporters in France. "He hit a wall. It'll take quite a long time before he races again."
It remains to be seen how Team Ineos play things now; whether they put all of their eggs into Geraint Thomas's basket, or decide to protect rising star Egan Bernal and go with a two-pronged strategy.
Yesterday, Adam Yates snatched the yellow jersey at the Dauphine, finishing sixth in the TT to wrestle the race lead from Bahrain-Merida's Dylan Teuns by four seconds.
Jumbo-Visma's Wout van Aert won the stage while Daniel Martin finished in 20th place, 1:38 down, and is now 13th overall.