The Italian was transported to a hospital in Grenoble for further scans after X-rays taken after the finish of the stage were inconclusive but his team suspected a fractured vertebra because of the pain he was experiencing. Doctors later confirmed that Nibali had fractured his T10 vertebra.
Bahrain-Merida team doctor Emilio Magni spoke to the Italian media as he was returning to the team's hotel at Alpe d'Huez from the hospital in Grenoble. A Tour de France helicopter was not available to transport Nibali and so he was taken to Grenoble by ambulance with a police escort.
"The scan has confirmed what we feared," Magni told Tuttobiciweb. "There's a fracture of the T10 vertebra. It's a non-displaced fracture but it's clear Vincenzo can't ride his bike again for at least 15 days."
Fan video captures moment of crash
Nibali was following an attack from Chris Froome (Team Sky) late into the stage finale when he suddenly hit the ground. Despite media assertions that either a race motorbike or a spectator caused the crash, Nibali did not assign any blame. Judging from video of rowdy fans setting off smoke flares at the point of his crash, it may well be a combination of both.
"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," he said.
Nibali got up from the crash and finished the stage 13 seconds down on winner and race leader Geraint Thomas (Team Sky). He was lying fourth in the overall standings, 2:37 off the race lead.
While Richie Porte (BMC), the other contender who preceded Nibali in exiting the Tour prematurely, has already set his sights on the Vuelta a España, what might be next for the 2014 Tour de France champion remains to be seen.
"We don't know what Vincenzo will do tomorrow, we've got to speak all the staff and then decide. One thing is sure: now he needs some rest. In a few days well probably do another scan."
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
#TDF2018— Team Bahrain Merida (@Bahrain_Merida) July 19, 2018
@vincenzonibali speaking about his crash: "The road became narrower and there were no barriers. There were two police motorbikes. When Froome accelerated, I followed him, I was feeling good. Then we slowed down and I hit the ground"
Wenige Meter vor der 4km Marke hinauf nach Alpe d' Huez... der in Führung liegende Kruijswijk und kurz darauf durch ein Motorrad zu Fall gekommende Vincenzo Nibali... #TDF2018pic.twitter.com/0Joia78zci— Radsportcafé (@radsportcafe) July 19, 2018