Tour de France
When a GC leader crashes out of the Tour, months...

Porte makes tearful Tour exit with early crash

Australian cyclist Richie Porte pulled out of the Tour de France on Sunday after falling heavily on a shoulder early in stage nine.

ROUBAIX, France (VN) — Richie Porte (BMC Racing) saw his Tour de France dreams end in tears just 10km into Sunday’s decisive stage across the pavé.

It wasn’t the treacherous cobblestones that took him out. The Australian didn’t even make it that far. Porte was caught up in an early-race pileup in the opening kilometers of the stage as the peloton was seeing the day’s first attacks.

Porte, 33, was spotted clutching his right clavicle as riders tried to untangle themselves from bikes and bodies. A Tour de France doctor attended him as Porte sat on the pavement, with Jens Keukeleire (Lotto-Soudal) next to him on the ground. BMC Racing teammate Simon Gerrans waited for Porte, but it was soon obvious there was no pushing on.

Porte broke down in tears as he realized the enormity of the loss. Photographers and TV cameramen hovered close to snap some images of one of the first major pre-Tour favorite forced to abandon.

It appeared that Porte might have broken a clavicle, but there was not an official diagnosis. BMC officials confirmed that Porte was being transported to a local hospital.

The Tour rolled on, but Porte is out of the race in an almost cruel replay of his exit in 2017 on the very same stage. One year ago, Porte crashed out of the Tour on stage 9 in a fall on a corner on a harrowing descent in the Alps.

Porte’s unfortunate exit Sunday is the latest in a string of mishaps and misfortune for the scrappy Tasmanian who looked to be on the form of his life after winning the Tour de Suisse in June.

Movistar’s José Joaquín Rojas, a key helper for Nairo Quintana, was also forced to abandon.

Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin), a winner of the last cobbles stage in 2015, did not start following a crash Saturday. Team officials cited a spinal fracture (vertebral compression fracture) as the reason.