Switzerland's Sven Montgomery is out of this year's Tour de France after crashing during the race's 16th stage and sustaining fractures to his skull and face.
The Les Francaise des Jeux rider, who was lying in 17th place overall, was immediately rushed to hospital in Tulle, before being airlifted by helicopter to an intensive care unit in Limoges.
Tests showed that Montgomery had not suffered any brain damage, but his team doctor said the 25-year-old would need to undergo surgery before returning to Switzerland.
Marc Madiot, the team's sporting director, said Montgomery had remained conscious after the accident, talking to colleagues on his way to hospital.
Four other riders were hospitalised by the crash that occurred on a fast bend around 40 kilometres short of the finish of the 229-kilometre stage between Castelsarrasin and Sarran in central France. They were Germany's Jens Heppner, Belgium's Marc Wauters, Italy's Oscar Pozzi and Spain's Vicente Garcia-Acosta.
Montgomery, who was the highest placed Swiss in the race, had also been challenging for the title of best young rider in this year's Tour de France. He won the inaugural Jacques Goddet Memorial trophy after being the first rider to the top of the Col du Tourmalet during last Sunday's 14th stage in the Pyrenees.
Wednesday's 16th stage was eventually won by Germany's Jens Voigt, with Montgomery's teammate Bradley McGee coming home in second place.
The US Postal Service Team rider and double Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong, still leads the race with a five minute advantage over Germany's Jan Ullrich.
swissinfo with agencies