For the second year in a row Richie Porte has crashed out of the Tour de France on stage nine of the race. The Australian favourite has based his entire season around the event, but hit the deck inside the first ten kilometres of the stage from Arras Citadelle.
An emotional Porte was left holding his right shoulder after the fall, and withdrew soon afterwards. His crash occurred long before the cobblestone sectors littered along the 156.5 kilometre route to Roubaix. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and JJ Rojas (Movistar) were amongst the other fallers; Greipel was able to continue, but Rojas also had to withdraw.
— Le Tour de France (@LeTour) July 15, 2018
Porte’s Tour de France hopes had looked good up until his crash. He was third in the Tour de Romandie and then won the Tour de Suisse. He was sitting tenth overall on Sunday morning, 57 seconds behind his teammate Greg Van Avermaet. His aim was to get through the stage without incident and then continue his advance up the general classification in the mountains.
Instead, unfortunately, his race is at an end.
“I only know that Richie was taken to hospital by ambulance,” said directeur sportif Fabio Baldato afterwards. “It looked like it was his collarbone or his shoulder that was injured. It was really painful as he went down hard on his shoulder. We waited almost more five minutes and then the decision was made to take him to the hospital.”
The team later released an update on his condition, confirming he had fractured his collarbone.
“Obviously I’m devastated,” said Porte. “For the second year in a row I am ending the Tour de France like this. I was on the ground before I knew it and straight away felt pain in my right shoulder. I want to say a big thank you to my teammates for their incredible work over the first nine days. We had a great first week and I’m so disappointed that I won’t be continuing to Paris. I hope to recover as fast as possible and get back to racing.”
It is not yet clear what his new targets will be.
Team doctor Max Testa gave details about his condition and also the plan heading forward. “Richie has been discharged by the hospital and the diagnosis is that he has a non-displaced right clavicle fracture,” he said. “He will need to rest for a week before he considers starting to ride on the home trainer. From what we know at this point, it looks like a straightforward injury and one that is quite common in cycling.
“We are expecting him to be back on the bike training in probably three to four weeks and potentially racing in six to eight weeks. We will continue to monitor Richie’s recovery and adjust the plan accordingly.”
As disappointing as the crash was, the squad was able to bounce back and take second on the stage with Greg Van Avermaet. That saw the Belgian extend his overall lead, and do something to keep the team’s morale up.
“Losing Richie was a big disappointment for the whole team because we were here to bring him to Paris,” he said. “You have some bad luck one year and you normally come back and then everything goes well. But for this to happen two years in a row is sad for Richie. He was well-prepared and in good shape in Switzerland so we really believed in him.
“I wish him all the best in his recovery and hopefully, he is back soon. Now, we will try to make the most out of the second and third week. It will be a little bit more relaxed but we will try to do as good as possible.”