Chris Froome will miss the Tour de France after hitting a wall at high speed and suffering severe injuries in a training accident at the Criterium du Dauphine on Wednesday, Team Ineos leader Dave Brailsford has confirmed.
“It’s clear he’ll take no part in the Tour,” Brailsford told French television while four time Tour de France winner Froome was being treated at the scene in a parked ambulance.
This year’s Tour de France embarks from Brussels on July 6 and the loss of the iconic four time winner will shake up ambitions at several teams.
But Froome’s team principal Brailsford’s somber tone suggested the implications may go further.
“He is in a very, very serious condition,” said Brailsford, adding that the racer was having difficulty speaking and would be helicoptered to hospital.
A witness at the scene of the accident said Froome had suffered an open fracture of the femur and had suffered other injuries too, notably to his elbows.
Brailsford said Froome had been speeding downhill with Dutch teammate Wout Poels on a ‘recon’ ride for Wednesday’s time-trial when a gust of wind blew him off track, making him hit a wall.
“They were going very fast and the wind got his front wheel and sent him straight into the wall,” Brailsford said in French.
The accident took place on a narrow descent through the village of Saint-André d’Apchon in the Loire region and other competitors on the recon estimated he would have been travelling at 60km/h (38 m/ph)
“He’s in a very, very serious condition and he could hardly speak. He’ll be helicoptered to either Lyon or Saint-Etienne hospital within a few minutes,” said Brailsford.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme was swift to wish Froome a speedy recovery.
“We hope he gets well soon. The Tour de France won’t be the same without him. Chris Froome has been the central character at the Tour since 2013,” he said.
“His withdrawal changes the whole thing. Even if they have the title holder Geraint Thomas and let’s not be lured into underestimating Egan Bernal, who will be his lieutenant or possibly more,” Prudhomme said of two key Ineos riders.
Froome’s last major win came at the 2018 Giro where he also fell while doing recon for the opening day time-trial around Jerusalem, suffering early in the three week race before spectacular late rally.
He also fell on stage one of the 2018 Tour de France where he eventually came third behind Thomas and Dutch all rounder Tom Dumoulin.
This year has been disappointing for Froome. Early in the 2019 season Froome took part in the Tour of Colombia, but the rarefied air at altitude and the long climbs failed to suit him and he came 91st in the run through the Andes.
He was 94th at the Tour of Catalonia, 11th in the Tour of the Alps and 13th at the Tour de Yorkshire, leaving critics lukewarm over his 2019 Tour de France chances.
The Kenyan born Froome, who at his best combines top level time-trialing skills with a fearsome prowess for climbing, first won the Tour in 2013 with Team Sky.
He went on to further Tour de France wins in 2015, 2016 and 2017, he also won the 2017 Vuelta a Espana and the 2018 Giro d’Italia, making him the greatest Grand Tour rider of his generation.