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 joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.