Six-times Grand Tour winner Froome, alongside team mate Geraint Thomas, was one of the favourites for the Tour de France, which he has won four times.
The news of Froome’s crash was released by Team Ineos on Wednesday morning in a short statement that said:
“Team INEOS can confirm that Chris Froome crashed during a recon of stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine today. He is currently on his way to a local hospital and won’t start today’s fourth stage. We will provide a further update in due course.”
Team Ineos director Dave Brailsford has confirmed that Froome had a suspected fracture of the femur. He told Belgian media shortly after the incident that it is “pretty clear” that Froome will not be fit for the Tour de France, and revealed more details, saying:
“He’s had a bad crash. He’s hit a wall at 60km an hour – it sounds like he’s fractured a femur, to be confirmed. Obviously we’re trying to monitor that at the minute and think about Michelle and his family and everything else. ”
“I haven’t spoken to Chris, I’m not sure he’s in a position to speak at the minute. Luckily there was a race ambulance parked close to where he had his accident so they were able to take care of him very quickly, which was fortunate. ”
Froome was taken to hospital after hitting a wall at high speed during a course reconnaissance of the 26.1 km individual time trial around Roanne in central France.
“It’s a very serious accident. Clearly, he won’t be at the start of the Tour de France. It’ll take quite a long time before he races again,” Brailsford added to French television.
“He crashed in the downhill section of the course at high speed. He hit a wall. The ambulance came quickly, he’s been taken care of and waits for a helicopter to be transferred to Lyon or Saint-Etienne.”
The news comes as a huge blow to the four-time Tour de France Champion, who had looked in decent form in the opening three stages of the Dauphine as his preparations continued for the 2019 Tour de France, where he was expected to be joint team leader with defending champion Thomas.
Froome’s crash came towards the end of his recon of Wednesday’s time trial course, a stage that was expected to see him challenge for the overall lead of the Dauphine.
With Thomas expected to race at the Tour de Suisse next week and Egan Bernal on the road to recovery after an injury that ruled him out of the Giro d’Italia, Froome faced some serious competition for the lead role at Ineos in this year’s Tour de France.
But all indications were that Froome had done enough to be Ineos’ unofficial leader at the Tour, ahead of both Thomas and Bernal, as he aimed for an historic fifth title. Team director Dave Brailsford appeared to confirm as much when he said this week:
“We’re going to do all we can to support Chris in his bid to win a fifth Tour, to cement his place in history and join the exclusive club of five-time winners. Sport is full of history and legends. We have to try and do great things, but we also have other riders to manage, too, like Geraint and Egan.”
The Tour de France begins on July 6, with Thomas now likely to be Ineos’ main GC contender as he looks to defend his 2018 title.