Chris Froome sustained multiple injuries while warming up for the time trial at the Criterium du Dauphiné this morning and will miss next month's Tour de France, which the four-time yellow jersey winner had been aiming to win for a record-equalling fifth time.
Leadership of Team Ineos at the three-week race, which starts in Brussels on 6 July, now falls to defending champion Geraint Thomas of Team Sky.
Froome reportedly crashed when he took his hands off the bars to wipe his nose on a fast section of today's Stage 4 course of the Dauphiné.
In a statement released this evening, Team Ineos doctor Richard Usher said: "Chris was taken to Roanne Hospital where initial examinations confirmed multiple injuries, most notably a fractured right femur and right elbow.
"He has also suffered fractured ribs. He is now being airlifted to St Etienne University Hospital for further treatment.
“On behalf of the team, I would like to commend the treatment he received from the emergency services and all at Roanne Hospital in assessing and stabilising him.
“We will now turn our focus towards supporting him in his recovery."
Team principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, commented: "Our primary focus now is obviously on ensuring Chris gets the very best possible care, which he will do, so he can recover as soon as possible.
“One of our big strengths on this team is coming together in difficult moments, and we will ensure we do everything possible to support Chris and his family.”
Brailsford added: “Even though we all recognise the risks involved in our sport, it’s always traumatic when a rider crashes and sustains serious injuries.
“Chris had worked incredibly hard to get in fantastic shape and was on track for the Tour, which unfortunately he will now miss.
“One of the things which sets Chris apart is his mental strength and resilience – and we will support him totally in his recovery, help him to recalibrate and assist him in pursuing his future goals and ambitions.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.