PORTE CRASHES OUT

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT -

THE rider caught up in Richie Porte’s hor­ri­fy­ing high- speed crash has crit­i­cised Tour de France or­gan­is­ers for the tech­ni­cal Mont du Chat de­scent.

Aus­tralian ti­tle hope Porte has a frac­tured pelvis, a bro­ken col­lar­bone, ex­ten­sive abra­sions and shat­tered dreams fol­low­ing the sick­en­ing crash at about 70km/ h which ended his tour.

Dan Martin went down in the same crash — the last de­scent of a bru­tal day in the Alps — and the Ir­ish rider had a dig about the in­clu­sion of the treach­er­ous sec­tion af­ter re­cov­er­ing to fin­ish the stage in ninth place.

“It’s so slip­pery and I guess the or­gan­is­ers got what they wanted ... it was so slip­pery un­der the trees,” Martin said.

“Richie locked up his back wheel, went straight into the grass, just wiped out, and his bike just col­lected me. I had nowhere to go.

“We take the risks, but for sure today the route didn’t help with the rain.”

There were im­me­di­ate fears for Porte’s health af­ter one of the worst crashes seen on the tour.

But he was con­scious through­out and his BMC team is hope­ful the Aus­tralian star will not need surgery and could even re­turn later this sea­son.

“He re­mem­bered ev­ery­thing that hap­pened be­fore and af­ter the crash,” team doc­tor Max Testa said.

Phys­i­cally Porte will need about four to six weeks off the bike, pro­vided there are no com­pli­ca­tions.

For now, the ef­fects of such a dev­as­tat­ing crash on his morale and con­fi­dence are un­known.

Porte also crashed out of last year’s Rio Olympics road race on the fi­nal de­scent, again when he was among the lead­ers, and suf­fered a bro­ken scapula.

Af­ter the best sea­son of his ca­reer, the 32- year- old was the strong­est rider go­ing into the Tour, mak­ing it the first time since Cadel Evans’ de­fence of his his­toric 2011 ti­tle that Aus­tralia had a re­al­is­tic ti­tle hope. The Tas­ma­nian had some prob­lems in the open­ing week, in­clud­ing mi­nor in­juries in a stage- two crash.

But he was well- placed at fifth over­all, 39 sec­onds be­hind Chris Froome.

The crash is the lat­est — and worst — chap­ter of Porte’s wretched luck at the Tour. Last year he fin­ished a ca­reer- best fifth at the race, but it could have been sec­ond had he not suf­fered a cru­cial punc­ture in the open­ing week.

Colom­bian Rigob­erto Uran of Can­non­dale- Dra­pac won the 181.5km stage from Nan­tua to Chambery in a photo fin­ish with French rider War­ren Bar­guil ( Sun­web).

Team Sky’s Froome fin­ished third and re­tained his over­all lead, 18 sec­onds ahead of Fabio Aru ( As­tana), ahead of the first rest day and Martin is sixth over­all.

Pic­tures: AP, AFP

SHAT­TERED: Aus­tralia's Richie Porte gets med­i­cal help af­ter crash­ing in the de­scent of the Mont du Chat pass dur­ing the ninth stage of the Tour de France.

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