Chris Froome's hopes of pulling off a rare Tour de France-Vuelta double appear to be over after the Briton called into question his chances of starting the 12th stage of the race following a heavy crash on Wednesday.
The two-time Tour de France winner hit a barrier at the start of the brutal 11th stage in the Pyrenees and although he limped across the line more than seven minutes behind new leader Fabio Aru, Froome cast doubt over his further participation.
"Knocked sideways into a barrier & stone wall today. Further scans in the morning but start unlikely as I can't walk without crutches," Froome tweeted late on Wednesday after undergoing scans on his injured knee and shoulder.
Froome appeared close to abandoning the race when he was dropped from the group of main contenders with three of the six climbs remaining but the 30-year-old doggedly continued with the help of his Sky team mates and managed to finish the stage.
However, after losing so much time and with 10 stages remaining, Froome's hopes of emulating Frenchmen Jacques Anquetil (1963) and Bernard Hinault (1978) as the only men to win the Tour and Vuelta in the same year are all but over.
"Really appreciate all the messages of support, I did my best to hang in there today as best I could with the hope of continuing," Froome added, while praising team mate Geraint Thomas, who helped nurse him through to the finish.
"Thanks to the whole team for the support, especially @GeraintThomas86 for sticking it out with me today."
The 21-stage race finishes in Madrid on September 13.