Richie Porte's Tour de France challenge ended abruptly when he crashed on the descent of the Mont du Chat on stage 9, and the Australian remains in hospital in Chambery after fracturing his clavicle and pelvis in the incident.
Porte was part of the yellow jersey group over the top of the day's final climb, but he crashed heavily on a left-hand bend on the descent. It was immediately apparent that the BMC man's race was over, and he was brought immediately to the Céntre Hospitalier Metropole Savoie in Chambéry for treatment.
After winning the Tour de Romandie and placing second overall at the Critérium du Dauphiné, Porte had arrived at the Tour touted as Chris Froome's biggest rival for overall victory, and he lay 39 seconds down in fifth overall ahead of Sunday's stage. On Monday afternoon, he was still coming to terms with the sudden end to his Tour.
"Obviously, I've felt much better than what I do right now. I'm in a fair bit of pain and it's a big disappointment to be honest," Porte said from hospital in an audio file distributed by his BMC team. "I think I was in great form and the team were really strong around me too, so it's disappointing but I think after seeing the crash I'm lucky that I have come away with the injuries I have."
Dan Martin (Quick-Step) came down in the same incident as Porte, although the Irishman was able to remount and complete the stage. Afterwards, Martin was critical of the difficulty of the descents on the day's route, which had been rendered more treacherous by intermittent rain. For his part, Porte felt that he had not taken any undue risks on the way down Mont du Chat.
"I remember I came into a corner and it wasn't like we were going too fast or anything like that, but I just remember I locked the back wheel up and that was it really," Porte said. "Next thing I was heading for the grass verge on the corner. I stayed conscious the whole time. I remember the whole thing but I must say thank you to the medical staff on the race and the hospital. They have been absolutely fantastic."
On Sunday evening, BMC doctor Max Testa optimistically suggested that Porte could be back in competitive action as soon as next month. The Tasmanian was reluctant to establish a precise timeline for his rehabilitation at this point, though he sounded an optimistic note about his prospects of returning to the peloton before the end of the season.
"I don't think I'll be back on my bike for a good while now. I think the team is good with that. They just say to recover, there is no rush to come back," Porte said. "Hopefully, I'll pull the BMC jersey on by the end of the year."
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