Tour de France: Richie Porte, the pre-race favourite, suffers heavy crash

Long ride Porte signed to Christie-Johnson's Australian domestic cycling team in 2008

Geraint Thomas out of Tour de France after crash on stage nine

Australian Richie Porte was taken to hospital after crashing spectacularly out of the Tour de France on a treacherous and costly ninth stage.

Thomas won the opening stage and wore the yellow jersey for the first four days of the Tour until Froome moved ahead of him in the GC.

Thomas was second overall at the start of the day, just 12 seconds behind reigning champion and his Sky team leader Froome. "He was asking for his helmet and his glasses".

The crashes were not the only cause of drama.

"I was looking at him, he was in pain", Porte's sports director Fabio Baldato said. "I only found out at the finish".

"I was very, very lucky to get away as lightly as I did".

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Porte was taken straight to hospital from the mountainside after a horrific high-speed crash.

" Richie was quite instrumental in slowing the group down and saying, basically "guys, this is not the moment to attack the leader of the race when he's got a mechanical". We caught Nairo [Quintana] at the bottom and rode as hard as we could. I just got a spare bike off the team vehicle and got going again. "It wasn't a swipe at Aru or anything like that".

The accident also saw Irish rider Dan Martin felled as he collided with the prone Porte.

"Richie just lost it on one corner".

"It was so slippery under the trees". Bardet is now third at 51sec with Uran, who took the winner's 10sec bonus, fourth at 55sec.

But Quintana's ambitious Giro-Tour double bid appears to be extracting a heavy price - he is now two minutes 13 seconds down in eighth while two-time Tour victor Alberto Contador slipped all the way to 12th after shipping four minutes.

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At the time of the crash, AG2R La Mondiale were lighting up the race on the descent before the next hors categorie climb.

"It's a massive disappointment", Thomas said.

"Majka just came down right in front of me, and there was nowhere to go", Thomas told VeloNews. I crashed at the Giro (d'Italia) on stage nine, and it's stage nine again here. I was sitting second overall as well. "It's just so disappointing".

Monday is a rest day for the riders.

Porte's crash was the most dramatic as he clipped the grass verge on the inside of a bend on the lightning quick descent down the fearsome Mont du Chat less than 25km from the finish. I managed to save myself and contest the stage victory.

I'm happy to still be in the jersey but at the same time that was a insane stage.

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