Vincenzo Nibali has been forced to withdraw from the Tour de France due to back injuries sustained in a crash on stage 12 of the iconic race.
Team Bahrain-Merida announced 2014 champion Nibali suffered a "vertebral body fracture of the tenth thoracic vertebra" on Thursday.
Nibali hurt himself in a crash with four kilometres remaining until the finish line up the gruelling Alpe d'Huez – the Italian cyclist hitting the ground hard as Chris Froome led an attack during the finale amid rowdy fans.
However, Nibali got up and managed to finish 13 seconds adrift of stage winner and Team Sky rider Geraint Thomas.
"The clinical examinations have shown the vertebral body fracture of the tenth thoracic vertebra and therefore its impossibility to continue the competition," the team said in a statement.
"Tomorrow [Friday] in the morning, Vincenzo Nibali will return to Italy where, in the next days, he will undergo a new clinical evaluation."
Prior to being taken to hospital, Nibali said, "The road narrowed a lot at that point, there were no barriers and there were two police motorbikes. When Froome accelerated, I followed him, and I felt good, too, but then there was this slowing down, and I went down. I don't even know what happened myself."
Ciao Ragazzi sono di ritorno in hotel, purtroppo l’esito del referto medico non è buono, mi è stata confermata la frattura alla vertebra, domani tornerò a casa per un periodo di recupero. Grazie per tutto il vostro affetto dimostrato nei miei confronti! Alla prossima— Vincenzo Nibali (@vincenzonibali) July 19, 2018
Once the initial scans were confirmed, the 33-year-old tweeted: "Hello guys, we are returning to the hotel, unfortunately the outcome of the medical report is not good.
"It was confirmed the fracture to the vertebra. Tomorrow I will return home for a period of recovery. Thank you for all your affection shown to me!"