PARIS (AP) — Chris Froome remained hospitalized in France on Thursday after the high-speed crash that left him with multiple fractures and shattered his hopes of going for a record-equaling fifth Tour de France title next month.
Froome was airlifted to Saint-Etienne hospital in central France and underwent surgery after he hit a wall a 54 kph (34 mph) during a training ride before the fourth stage of the Criterium du Dauphine in Roanne on Wednesday.
The Dauphine is a traditional warmup race for the Tour de France, the three-week showpiece race Froome and his teammates have dominated in recent years.
The 34-year-old Froome broke his right femur, elbow and several ribs. He was in intensive care and underwent surgery for several hours. His Ineos Team, which already said the crash ruled him out of the Tour, is expected to give an update on his condition later Thursday.
Team principal Dave Brailsford told the BBC that Froome was on a descent with teammate Wout Poels when he went to blow his nose and a gust of wind took out his front wheel, he lost control, and he hit the wall of a house.
Froome, who won the Tour de France in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, has often crashed in his career but had never been so seriously injured.
Last year on the Tour, he crashed in the opening stage and hit the ground again on a cobbled stage in northern France. He was also forced out of the 2014 Tour after injuring his left wrist in crashes, and abandoned the 2015 Spanish Vuelta with a foot injury following yet another accident.
After his third-place finish in last year’s Tour, Froome had only one goal this season: matching the record of five wins shared by Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.
He had skipped the Giro to focus solely on cycling’s marquee event and was hoping to put the final touches to his preparations at the Dauphine.
“Chris had worked incredibly hard to get in fantastic shape and was on track for the Tour, which unfortunately he will now miss,” Brailsford said.
Froome’s absence will settle the leadership question within Ineos, with Geraint Thomas looking to defend his title in July without a rival in his squad.
“Such crap news!! It’s always horrible hearing about any bad crash, but even worse when it’s a good mate!!” Thomas wrote on Twitter after finding out about Froome’s accident.
The Tour de France starts on July 6 from Brussels, Belgium.
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