Richie Porte has abandoned Paris-Nice following a crash in his debut race for Ineos Grenadiers.
Porte was brought down in the final 35km of the 165km first stage in a crash that also held up Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana) and Connor Swift (Arkéa-Samsic). The Australian gingerly got back up and remounted before then getting off his bike again and going to the race medics.
Leaning over the bonnet of the medical car, Porte was grimacing in pain from his injuries, and with team-mate Rohan Dennis having left him behind to chase back to the peloton, things were not looking hopeful for the Tasmanian.
Porte did get back on his bike, however, slowly setting off to try and complete the final 30km of the stage, his GC hopes now shot.
With the TV cameras having left him behind, news filtered through that Porte had abandoned as the peloton entered the final 10km of the race.
Ineos Grenadiers will now focus on Giro d’Italia winner Tao Geoghegan Hart for the Paris-Nice GC.
“Beyond gutted for Richie Porte. He’s sadly forced to abandon Paris-Nice in the closing stages of day one. We’ll have an update later,” Ineos Grenadiers said.
Speaking after the finish, Ben Swift explained that George Bennett had hit a discarded bidon, then veering into Porte’s path.
“As we were getting ready to move up someone dropped a bottle,” Ben Swift said. “George Bennett hit it, veered left into Richie and took his front wheel.
“I didn’t know whether he’d get back up [to the peloton] or not because we were moving pretty quickly at that point…it was all pretty chaotic.”