Chris Froome has been left with no option but to withdraw from contention at the 2015 Vuelta a Espana after sustaining a fractured foot early on stage 11 from Andorra la Vella to Cortals d'Encamp.
The 30-year-old was bidding to join Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault as the only cyclists in history to complete a Tour de France/Vuelta double following his second career victory in Paris this summer, but those ambitions were halted on 2 September when he collided with a barrier and stonewall while climbing during the difficult mountain stage.
Although he continued to ride and finished the day nine minutes behind eventual winner Mikel Landa, Froome dropped from eighth to 15th in the general classification and the gap with overall leader Fabio Aru of Astana grew to over seven. Team Sky confirmed after the finish that their key man had been taken to hospital for an x-ray after struggling to put weight on his foot, while the rider himself cast doubt upon his ability to start stage 12 after initially revealing he could not walk without crutches.
Fears that he had sustained sufficient damage to end his race have now been confirmed, with Froome announcing on Twitter: "Scans this morning confirm fractured navicular. End of the Vuelta for me @lavuelta #LV2015."
"I'm really gutted to be leaving the race but the injuries that I sustained on yesterday's stage were too much to continue," he told the team's official website. "I hit my right side heavily and the main impact went on my right foot. I was desperate to dig in and finish the stage and my team-mates did brilliantly to get me through it, but as soon as I got off the bike I couldn't put any weight on my right side.
"An MRI scan has shown that I have fractured navicular bone in my right foot, so now I'll work with our medical team on making a full recovery. This is a great group of guys and I would love to have fought on with them until the end. I wish them all the best with the remainder of the race and I'll be cheering them on from home. I'd also like to thank the fans for all their support and get well messages. I'll be back soon."