BMC Racing rider looks back on terrifying Tour crash

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Six months on from crashing out of the Tour de France in a terrifying fall on the descent from the Mont du Chat, Richie Porte has been looking back at the high-speed crash and the road to recovery.

Porte crashed on the final descent of stage nine into Chambery, losing control of his bike at more than 70kmh, hitting rocks at the side of the road and breaking his collarbone and pelvis in the process.

“On the day of the crash I had a bit of a problem with my bike but I’m a professional cyclist and I know my bike and my capabilities,” the Australian told The Mercury.

“I remember touching the brake before the camera picked me up so the rear of the bike had already locked up, and when the camera got to me it looked like I was on a bad line. But it’s not how it was. I remember the split second decision — there was a wall there or hit the little grass verge.

“I had time to let go of the brakes to let the bike try to correct itself but as soon as I touched them again to get around the corner the same thing happened.”

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Porte praised the work of the Tour’s doctors who were quickly at his side on the narrow descent, working to assess him for any possible spinal or head injury while riders, cars, and motorbikes flew past at high speed.

However Porte’s thoughts also turn to Dan Martin, lying fourth overall at the start of the day, who had the misfortune to be descending behind the BMC Racing rider at the time of the crash, also hitting the tarmac and suffering two fractured vertebrae in the process. Martin soldiered on through the pain, eventually finishing sixth overall in Paris.

“To be honest with you, it still hurts me that I took Dan Martin down with me, he was having a blinder of a Tour and got fractured vertebrae, and he’s a guy I respect so that hurts,” Porte said.


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Speaking in the week after crashing out of the race, Porte described the Tour de France route as “a joke of a course”, questioning whether organisers would be happy to see their family members tackle the same descent, sentiments that he clearly still holds.

“I wouldn’t say I’m a risk- taker, I prefer to go uphill and being a fan of the sport I’d rather see a race finish on top of a mountain, but it’s part of the sport,” he continued.

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“It’s a part of cycling, a spectacle, but if the race organisers had a son or a daughter in it would they be happy to send them down a descent like that? Maybe not.

“They’re making Grand Tours harder and more dangerous and at the end of the day I’ve still got my wife at home, my mum and dad and brothers at home in Tassie [Tasmania] not knowing what the hell had happened.”

Porte is currently in Australia preparing to defend his title at the Tour Down Under, which starts in Adelaide on January 16. He should return to the Tour de France in July where he could face strong competition with both Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin likely to be among the other contenders for the yellow jersey.