Richie Porte was able to remain calm under pressure and avoided losses after hitting his head in a fall at the Tour de France.
The Australian went down in a high-speed crash around 30km from the finish of stage 11 that left a small group of riders chasing the bunch, with Porte’s Trek-Segafredo team suffering the worst casualties.
Porte was one of five Trek riders caught in the pile-up, as team-mate and former race leader Giulio Ciccone fell hard and was left behind the peloton, crossing the line 12 minutes down on stage winner, Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal).
Speaking after the stage, Porte said: “I hit my head pretty hard so we’ll see how that is. Otherwise it’s not so bad. Ciccone had a pretty bad crash so hopefully he’s okay.
“In the grand scheme of things it wasn’t a terrible crash. We were up front. They’re pretty indiscriminate the crashes here. It’s a relief to get the first crash over and done with.”
The collision 30km from the finish in Toulouse caused split which saw Porte and general classification rival Nairo Quintana (Movistar) distanced.
Trek were composed in the chaos and swiftly began the chase, as the peloton slowed up front allowing the back-markers to regain contact.
Porte avoided losing any more time – a welcome result after he lost 1-40 to the GC favourites in the crosswinds on the road to Albi on stage 10.
The 34-year-old head into the Pyrenees in 19th place overall, 3-59 down on race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and almost three minutes down to yellow jersey in waiting Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos).
He is one of several contenders who will look to make up time on stage 12 to Bagnéres-de-Bigorre, with two first category climbs in the final 70km – the Col de Peyresourde and the Horquette d’Ancizan.
On whether his crash will affect his performance, Porte said: “I hope not. We’ll see.”