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

Team Sky's Geraint Thomas has been forced to abandon the Tour de France after crashing during a high-speed descent during stage nine on Sunday.

Overall, Froome leads Fabio Aru of Italy by 18 seconds and Romain Bardet of France by 51 seconds.

A stricken Porte was treated by doctors before being carried into an ambulance and taken to hospital, while Martin picked himself up and finished the stage despite going down for a second time. Organizers said he was conscious and speaking.

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

"I had a mechanical problem with my gears, I had to change bike", said three-times champion Froome.

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Throughout the entire ordeal, the Lockharts have expressed gratitude for words of support and prayer from fans. A CT scan showed a tear inside his nose from the impact, and doctor's diagnosed it as a lacerated artery.

He won stage one of this year's race and wore the leader's yellow jersey until Froome took it after stage five.

Porte, seen as one of the main rivals to his Sky team-mate Chris Froome, was taken to hospital, his tour over at the end of the first week.

In the confusion that followed, Bardet used his local knowledge of the roads to ride clear and catch his compatriot as the road levelled out in the run into Chambery. He is now eighth overall, a massive 2:13 off the pace.

The Australian went slightly off the narrow road and crashed across the surface into a rock on the other side of the road, taking out Dan Martin in the process. Dutchman Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Italy's Manuele Mori (UAE Team Emirates) fell inside the opening 10km and both were forced out, the former with a fractured vertebrae less than a day after he finished runner-up in Stage 8.

Twice former victor Alberto Contador was one of the big losers on the day from the 181.5km stage from Nantua to Chambéry. The Sunweb sprinter was part of the Sunday's large break and battled back after the HC duo of the Col de la Biche and Grand Colombier to win the intermediate sprint and move within 52 points of the Quick-Step Floors rider.


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