Britain’s four-time champion Chris Froome has been ruled out of the Tour de France after a “very serious” crash.
Team Ineos rider Froome, 34, was taken to hospital with a reported broken femur after crashing before stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine on Wednesday.
“He crashed in the downhill section of the course at high speed. He hit a wall,” team principal Dave Brailsford told France Televisions. “It’ll take quite a long time before he races again.”
The incident took place during a practice ride on Wednesday’s 26.1km time-trial course in Roanne, France.
Brailsford said: “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.”
Froome was eighth overall in the Criterium after three stages of the eight-day race.
He would have been chasing a record-equalling fifth victory in the Tour, which starts in Brussels on 6 July.
Froome went into last year’s race as favourite, holding all three Grand Tour titles, having won the Vuelta a Espana and the Giro d’Italia.
He finished third as team-mate Geraint Thomas became the third Briton to win the race.