Chris Froome was forced to abandon the Tour de France on Thursday as the four-time champion tested positive for COVID-19.

The British rider sat 26th overall after Wednesday's stage 17, having spent over 69 hours on the road for the Israel Premier-Tech team.

The 37-year-old achieved his best Tour stage result since 2018 when he finished third on stage 12 up the Alpe d'Huez.

After a huge crash at the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine, Froome was left in intensive care with multiple serious injuries. He looked nailed on for his best general classification result in a Grand Tour since then as the riders edged closer to the finish in Paris this Sunday.

However, in a video message posted on his Twitter page, Froome said he had received "pretty disappointing news".

"A test has revealed that I've contracted COVID, so I'm not going to be taking the start today," he said.

"I'm really disappointed not to be able to roll into Paris and finish off this Tour de France. It's been an extremely special race for us as a team and me personally as well. I've been finding my legs again.

"I'm going to head home now, switch off for a few days, and refocus on being ready for the Vuelta a Espana later this season."

The Vuelta begins in the Netherlands on August 19, with a time-trial opener in Utrecht, before taking place in Spain from stage four onwards.

Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome has "no regrets" after he fought to finish third on stage 12 up the Alpe d'Huez.

The stage was won by fellow Brit Tom Pidcock on his Tour de France debut, but Froome's third-place finish was a brilliant side story in another engaging day.

After a huge crash at the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine, Froome was left in intensive care with multiple serious injuries.

The incident threatened to end his career, but after a long recovery Froome has now achieved his best Tour de France stage finish since 2018.

Having been part of a five-man breakaway over the penultimate ascent, Froome managed to stick with the lead group right the way up the famous final climb of Thursday's stage.

Despite finishing over two minutes behind Pidcock, the Israel-Premier Tech rider was understandably proud of his performance, and told reporters: "No regrets today.

"Naturally, I would have loved to have put my hands up and tried to win the stage.

"But I gave it absolutely everything I had today and I don't have any regrets.

"I think where I've come from the last three years, battling back after my accident, to finish third on one of the hardest stages on the tour, I can be really happy with that.

"I'm going to keep pushing, I don't know where my limits are. I'm going to keep trying to improve and hopefully get back to winning ways again."

Tom Pidcock marked his Tour de France debut with a stunning ride on stage 12, while race leader Jonas Vingegaard held off Tadej Pogacar.

Up the famous Alpe d'Huez, on Bastille Day, Olympic gold medallist Pidcock stormed to a remarkable, record-setting triumph – his first Grand Tour stage win.

Having attacked with 10 kilometres of the climb remaining, approaching the culmination of a 165.5km ride on Thursday, the 22-year-old Yorkshireman saw off Louis Meintjes to claim a remarkable triumph.

In the process, Pidcock – who was part of a five-man breakaway that took a six-minute time gap to the foot of the final ascent – became the youngest stage winner up the Alpe d'Huez in Le Tour history, breaking the record held by Lucho Herrera since 1984.

Yet Pidcock's tale was not the only incredible story of a quite sensational stage, with four-time champion Chris Froome claiming third, having planted himself in the breakaway group. While the yellow jersey is far out of the 37-year-old's reach, his performance echoed the form he was able to show in the years prior to his serious crash in 2019.

Behind the lead group, the fascinating general classification tussle between new leader Vingegaard and two-time defending champion Pogacar unfolded, hinting at the drama that is sure to come over the coming stages.

Pogacar twice attacked late on, yet Jumbo-Visma's Vingegaard kept pace.

The GC rivals pushed on for a sprint finish, with Pogacar nosing ahead to claim fifth place, though he was unable to damage Vingegaard, while Pidcock's INEOS Grenadier's team-mate Geraint Thomas, who conquered the mountain while wearing yellow in 2018, put himself into the top three in the overall standings.

But the day belonged to Pidcock, who after ploughing on to victory through thousands of vociferous spectators, said: "That was unbelievable, one of the craziest experiences ever. I can hardly hear anything, I've probably got hearing damage!

"That was ridiculous, at many points I thought I was going to get taken out."

Team GB's golden boy a speed demon

Pidcock is a star on the mountain bike, and those technical skills came in handy on the descent of the Col du Galibie, which preceded the climb up Alpe d'Huez. He clocked a top speed of 100km/h on the way down, while he averaged 19.7km/h on his way up to the summit finish.

"That is a record, I've never been over 100k before. It helps when there's a race to go for, doesn't it?" he said. 

"I'm lucky that I can descend or I wouldn't have won today. I don't think there was any way of me getting away at the start of the stage but I knew if the break was close enough at the top, I could go across on the descent because it was pretty twisty. I'm lucky Froomey was in front, we worked well together."

Froome, who won his first Tour de France when Pidcock was just 13, said: "He was flying down the descents today. His bike handling probably came in handy, there were a few times where I held back a bit because I was definitely at the limit."

STAGE RESULTS

1. Tom Pidcock (INEOS Grenadiers) 4:55:24
2. Louis Meintjes (Intermarche–Wanty–Gobert Materiaux) +0:48
3. Chris Froome (Israel–Premier Tech) +2:06
4. Neilson Powless (EF Education–EasyPost) +2:29
5. Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) +3:23

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification

1. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 46:28:46
2. Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) +2:22
3. Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers) +2:26

Points Classification

1. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 313
2. Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) 159
3. Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 155

King of the Mountains

1. Simon Geschke (Cofidis) 43
2. Louis Meintjes (Intermarche–Wanty–Gobert Materiaux) 39
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 36

Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome will make his 10th appearance in the race next month after being confirmed as part of Israel-Premier Tech's squad for the second grand tour of the year.

Froome has won the Tour on four occasions, in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 – only four riders (Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain - all five) have more general classification wins. 

The 37-year-old finished 133rd overall at last year's Tour, his first entry since coming third in 2018, but will bring up double figures for appearances in the race when it gets underway in Copenhagen on July 1.

Froome told his team's media channels: "It's awesome to be starting my 10th Tour de France with Israel-Premier Tech.

"I've worked exceptionally hard this year and I'm looking forward to giving it my all. We've got a great group of riders in the line-up and we can't wait for the battle to begin in Copenhagen."

Froome will ride largely in support of Denmark's Jakob Fuglsang, with the team's general manager Kjell Carlstrom insisting stage wins are their priority this year.

"In this Tour, the main priority for us is to win a stage," he said. "With Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana stage wins to our name, we would like to complete the grand tour trifecta with a Tour de France win, so it's certainly our main focus to begin with.

"We also want to keep our options open and see what may be possible in terms of fighting for a leader's jersey like we did last year, when we had Michael Woods fighting for the KOM jersey. 

"However, hunting for stages is definitely the most important goal for us in this year's Tour de France."

Egan Bernal says he almost died as a result of the injuries he suffered following a horror crash in training this week.

The INEOS Grenadiers rider was involved in a crash while training close to his hometown of Bogota in Colombia on Monday.

Bernal, the 2019 Tour de France champion and victor of the 2021 Giro d'Italia, struck a parked bus at high speed while riding his time trial bike.

Posting on Instagram, Bernal wrote: "Having had a 95 per cent chance of becoming a paraplegic and nearly losing my life doing what I love to do most, today I want to thank God, the Clinica Universidad de La Sabana, all the specialists for doing the impossible, my family, friends and all of you for your wishes. 

"I'm still in the ICU waiting for more surgeries but trusting in God everything will be fine."

Bernal underwent two operations following the incident, with the hospital confirming the surgeries were a success.

An INEOS statement later clarified the extent of the Colombian's injuries.

"Egan suffered a fractured vertebrae, a fractured right femur, a fractured right patella, chest trauma, a punctured lung and several fractured ribs in the crash. Doctors were able to medically pin his right leg and stabilise the vertebrae fracture in two separate surgeries," the statement read.

A hospital statement, reported by BBC Sport, read: "Egan Bernal Gomez has continued with the expected recovery and with a favourable trend.

"Egan continues with his rehabilitation plan, he has not shown signs of infection, he is also in good spirits.

"Tomorrow he will have two surgeries, which are secondary procedures that are not life-threatening."

INEOS Grenadiers have released an update on Egan Bernal, revealing the full extent of his injuries.

Bernal, the winner of the 2019 Tour de France and last year's Giro d'Italia, was involved in a crash while training close to his hometown of Bogota in Colombia on Monday.

According to local media reports, the 25-year-old struck a parked bus while riding at a high speed.

Bernal underwent two operations at the Clinica Universidad de La Sabana. On Tuesday, the hospital confirmed that the surgeries had been a success, but the rider remained in intensive care.

INEOS subsequently released a further update on the Colombian.

"Following yesterday's training accident, Egan remains in a stable condition in intensive care after two successful surgeries," the statement read.

"Egan suffered a fractured vertebrae, a fractured right femur, a fractured right patella, chest trauma, a punctured lung and several fractured ribs in the crash. Doctors were able to medically pin his right leg and stabilise the vertebrae fracture in two separate surgeries.

"He is now in an intensive care unit where other potential secondary injuries are being managed, as well as his body's response to the trauma.

"The team would like to thank the medical staff at Clinica Universidad de La Sabana and everyone who has sent messages of support to Egan. All of our focus is on ensuring Egan is given the best possible care as he starts his road to recovery."

Among those sending support to Bernal was former team-mate Chris Froome, who himself has had to overcome serious injuries to return to cycling.

Froome, a four-time Tour de France winner, suffered a fractured right femur, a fractured elbow, and fractured ribs, after a high-speed crash into a wall while training in 2019.

"My thoughts are with Egan and his family today," Froome wrote on Twitter.

Chris Froome will try and "survive" stage two of the Tour de France after crashing at high speed in the "carnage" of a crash on the first day of the race.

The four-time Tour champion was involved in the second major crash late in the opening stage from Brest to Landerneau on Saturday.

Froome appeared be struggling to stand after hitting the deck along with a whole host of other riders, but the Brit was able to finish the stage.

The Israel Start-Up Nation rider was in hospital until the early hours of Sunday morning, but will be on the starting line-up for a 183.5km second stage from Perros-Guirec to Mur-de-Bretagne Guerledan.

Froome said in an interview posted on his team's Twitter account: "That was definitely a bit of a crazy stage. One moment everything was fine heading towards the finish and the last 10ks and then 60-70km an hour, I think there was just a touch of wheels somewhere in the peloton and it was just carnage.

"Probably 50-60 riders on the floor, unfortunately there was just nowhere for me to go. I braked as hard as I could but still just went into the back of the guys who crashed in front of me.

"I hit my left side pretty hard, my left leg, and also the chest but went for scans last night and spent the whole evening in the hospital, got back at like 1am but all good.

"No fractures, just a lot of swelling, a lot of bruising. I'm pretty sore this morning but I'm going to try and get through today, survive the stage and hope over the next coming days it starts to feel better."

World champion Julian Alaphilippe delighted the home crowd by claiming the yellow jersey on day one.

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