Richie Porte (BMC Racing) says he'll turn his focus to the Vuelta a Espana and the world championships later this year now that his Tour de France has ended with a broken collarbone suffered early on in stage 9.
Speaking in a video recorded by his team, Porte expressed his obvious disappointment at having to leave the Tour for the second consecutive year following his crash and subsequent abandon last year, which also happened to be on stage 9.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed. This is not the way we wanted it to end – the same as last year. It's obviously painful physically and mentally, but it is what it is," a relaxed-looking Porte said, his right arm and shoulder wrapped in a purple sling.
Porte joined BMC to much fanfare in 2016, having finally been given a leadership opportunity at the Tour de France after working for Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome at Team Sky. Porte proved his potential with fifth place in 2016, but he was never able to climb higher after crashing and having to abandon the race in the following two years.
Now 33, Porte is in the last year of his contract with BMC and is reportedly moving on to Trek-Segafredo next year. He came into this Tour de France looking to secure a podium spot after clinching the Tour de Suisse title in June. But just 10 kilometres into stage 9, Porte's race was over after he was caught in a pile-up before even reaching the cobbles.
"To be honest, I don't remember anything – just being on the ground," he said. "As a cyclist knows, that feeling of breaking your collarbone... You know what that's like, and it was confirmed by the first race doctor that came and said to me, 'Yeah, you've broken your collarbone. You need to get in the ambulance.'"
Poor memories of the crash itself aside, Porte definitely remembers the disappointment setting in as the doctor's on-the-spot diagnosis meant Porte's race would be coming to an end.
"It's a bit of a shock, and then you realise all the hard work and stuff you've done to get to that point and... It's pretty overwhelming," he said, adding that it's all still a bit surreal.
"When you're in the hospital, a lot of thoughts go through your head. But, to be honest, I think when I get home and I'm not in the race environment, then it will all sink in," he said. "But the good thing is that I haven't done anything to my legs, so I'll be able to get on the bike within the next week, at least, and turn the legs over on a home trainer. But it's going to be disappointing not to still be at the Tour fighting in the mountains."
Asked about his biggest disappointment at having to abandon, Porte instead reflected on how the circumstances would affect everyone else on the team.
"Honestly, it's not just the sacrifices that I've made or the sacrifices made by the family – it's all the guys here who sacrificed their own race for me," he said. "It's the staff behind the scenes who were on the training camps as well.
"So it would be selfish of me to only think of myself at the moment, but I think to ride into Paris is something special, and to not do that the last two years, and in my final year with BMC as well... It would have been nice to have been able to do that."
Porte is obviously not finished with BMC, and his quick return to the bike means he will have more opportunities in the team's red-and-black kit – unlike last year when the severity of his Tour crash ended his season. He says he still has designs on a couple of big races.
"I think the Vuelta is probably a realistic goal," he said. "Also, the world championships. It's nice to be motivated to still race. Obviously, it's so disappointing to be sat here with my arm in a purple sling, but there are some nice races to finish up the season."