Richie Porte says a locked up back wheel made him lose control on a slick descent in the Tour de France‘s ninth stage and said the next thing he knew he “was heading for the grass verge on the corner.”
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The Australian BMC Racing leader sat fifth overall at 39 seconds ahead of the stage but the off-road patch catapulted him over the road and out of the race.
Landing on the right shoulder, he fractured his collarbone and pelvis. He remains in hospital in Chambéry as the Tour de France continues.
“I remember I came into a corner and it wasn’t like we were going too fast or anything like that, but I just remember I locked the back wheel up and that was it really,” Porte said on Monday from the hospital. “Next thing, I was heading for the grass verge on the corner.
“I stayed conscious the whole time. I remember the whole thing, but I must say thank you to the medical staff on the race and the hospital. They have been absolutely fantastic.”
Porte took down Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floores) when he crashed on the on the descent of the Mont du Chat. Martin was able to continue the race, however.
The 32-year-old Tasmanian began the Tour as a favourite to topple Chris Froome (Team Sky), who is racing for a fourth title.
Porte had a sensational 2017 leading up to the Tour, winning the Tour Down Under to begin his season before winning the Tour de Romandie and challenging for the Critérium du Dauphiné overall victory with a stage win in the time trial.
“Obviously, I’ve felt much better than what I do right now. I’m in a fair bit of pain and it’s a big disappointment to be honest,” added Porte.
“I was in great form and the team were really strong around me too, so it’s disappointing but I think after seeing the crash I’m lucky that I have come away with the injuries I have.”
It is unclear how long Porte will need to recover from his injuries, specifically his pelvis fracture. He indicated he could return to racing before the curtains close on the 2017 season.
“I don’t think I’ll be back on my bike for a good while now. I think the team is good with that. They just say to recover, there is no rush to come back. Hopefully, I’ll pull the BMC Racing Team jersey on by the end of the year.”