It wasn’t the return to Dave Brailsford’s squad that Richie Porte would have been dreaming about, as the 36-year-old crashed out of Paris-Nice on stage one.
It’s not quite a full-fledged nightmare, though, as the Tasmanian suffered no fractures in the fall. After being assessed back at the Ineos Grenadiers’ hotel, Porte was taken to hospital for scans, with no fractures to his lower back or pelvis found.
Porte fell with 35km remaining of the first stage, his debut race back with the team he left in 2015 before returning this season.
Team-mate Ben Swift revealed after the stage that a discarded bottle had gone under George Bennett’s (Jumbo-Visma) wheel, causing him to swerve into Porte’s path and send him tumbling to the deck.
Porte got back up and remounted, before climbing off and going to the medical car, grimacing from the fall.
Refusing to quit, he then clipped in once more and rode the next 20km alone before abandoning, just as the peloton had entered the final 10km of the race.
“We start a man down at Paris-Nice today, but thankfully we can confirm Richie Porte suffered no fractures in his crash yesterday. He’ll now head home, heal up and get ready to go again,” Ineos said before the start of stage two.
“Nothing broken but I’m out of Paris-Nice unfortunately,” Porte said. “Thanks for all the messages. Feeling beat up and sore but can’t thank the team enough for getting around me.”
Porte is on the shortlist to ride this summer’s Tour de France for Ineos, but his schedule up to the French Grand Tour is currently unknown.
Tao Geoghegan Hart will now take over full leadership at Paris-Nice, Porte and Geoghegan Hart having been the squad’s two protected riders for the stage race, with the first GC test set for Wednesday’s stage four to Chiroubles.