Chris Froome ruled out of Tour de France with COVID-19

Chris Froome has won the Tour de France four times, in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Alex Broadway/Getty Images

Chris Froome has been ruled out of the Tour de France after testing positive for COVID-19.

The four-time Tour de France champion withdrew before Stage 18 of the event on Thursday.

Froome, 37, finished third on Stage 12 of this year's edition of the Tour to Alpe d'Huez in his best performance since he suffered a career-threatening crash in 2019.

But the Israel-Premier Tech rider, who won the event in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, will play no further part this year after his positive test, although he said he would target a return at the Vuelta a Espana, which starts on Aug. 19.

"I'm really disappointed not to be able to roll into Paris and finish off this Tour de France," Froome said in a video posted on social media.

"It's been an extremely special race for us as a team and for me personally.

"I've really been finding my legs again and I just want to thank everyone for all the support through this process.

"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."

Froome was 26th in the general classification before his withdrawal, one hour and 27 minutes behind Jonas Vingegaard in the yellow jersey.