Italy’s Luca Wackermann was taken to hospital after a helicopter “flying too low” caused a crash near the end of stage four of the Giro d’Italia.
Vini Zabu-KTM’s Wackermann and Etienne van Empel both fell in the incident.
Dutch rider Van Empel was able to get back up but his team-mate was less fortunate.
“Wackermann was sent to the hospital, he was barely conscious,” team boss Andrea Citracca told Italian TV station RAI2.
“The helicopter was flying too low, the movement of the air blew up the barriers. It is not clear if he has broken his pelvis. The barriers were not tied properly.”
Vini Zabu-KTM later confirmed that Wackermann had abandoned the race with a broken nose and has a suspected broken back, along with multiple cuts and bruises.
The crash saw both riders collide with the roadside barriers and took place in the final 800m of the stage as the race travelled from Catania to Villafranca Tirrena.
France’s Arnaud Demare of Groupama-FDJ claimed victory in the bunch sprint on the race’s final day on the island of Sicily.
He beat Bora-Hangrohe’s Peter Sagan and Davide Ballerini of Deceuninck-Quick Step by millimetres on the line after organisers poured over a photo finish.
One of the surprise omissions from the bunch sprint was Fernando Gaviria of UAE-Team Emirates, who lost touch with the peloton as teams picked up the pace at the front.