Froome to miss Tour de France after crash at Criterium du Dauphine

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In a short statement on their Twitter account, Team Ineos said: "Team Ineos can confirm that Chris Froome crashed during a recon of stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine today. He's just going to get airlifted shortly to hospital, Saint-Etienne, maybe Lyon".

Britain's Chris Froome suffered a "very serious" crash during a practice ride before the stage and has been ruled out of the Tour de France in July.

Froome - a four-time victor of cycling's biggest event - was taken to hospital after crashing during a reconnaissance ride ahead of stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine.

It was immediately feared the 34-year-old had broken his leg and, after being taken to a local hospital, further injuries were confirmed as his hopes of a fifth Tour title this year were dashed.

Brailsford told Cyclingnews that Froome had taken his hand off the handlebars to blow his nose and lost his front wheel in gusty conditions.

Froome received treatment quickly from medical staff with a race ambulance that was near the scene of the crash, Brailsford said.

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Froome's injuries, which will nearly certainly rule him out of the world championships in Yorkshire in September, stunned Tour de France organisers.

Froome missed the Giro d'Italia to allow himself more time to prepare for the Tour de France, which he had been aiming to win for a record-tying fifth time.

"His withdrawal changes the whole thing".

Froome was eighth in the Dauphine standings, 24 seconds behind leader Dylan Teuns of Belgium.

This year, albeit with strong echoes of 2014, Froome's departure makes a much bigger difference. 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.

The Kenyan-born Froome, who at his best combines top level time-trialling skills with a fearsome prowess for climbing, first won the Tour in 2013 with Team Sky. He also won the 2017 Tour.