Published: Thu, July 19, 2018
Sport | By Fredrick Flores

Australia’s hopes crash out with Porte

Australia’s hopes crash out with Porte

Two years after suffering a career-threatening accident, former Paris-Roubaix champion John Degenkolb claimed his maiden Tour de France win on the ninth stage.

"I didn't see what happened behind me and can't comment on the decision", said the Dutch rider who also won Friday's seventh stage to join Sagan and Gaviria with two wins each from the first eight days' racing.

"Obviously I'm devastated. For the second year in a row I am ending the Tour de France like this".

Porte, the BMC team leader, crashed 10 kilometers into the 156.5-kilometer (97-mile) leg - before any of the 15 cobblestone sections - and abandoned with an apparent right shoulder injury.

The crash also saw André Greipel needing treatment while Movistar's José Joaquin Rojas has also been forced to abandon the race.

Romain Bardet endured a testing day as he sustained three punctures but, like Landa, lost just seven seconds on Froome and the GC contenders.

Sunday's ninth stage, which comes just before a much-needed rest day following an opening week of scorching heat, features 21.7 km of cobbled sectors that lighter riders may struggle to adapt to.

Mikel Landa and Rigoberto Uran also took tumbles, the latter losing almost a minute and a half on the general classification group. A fan helped Chris Froome get going after he tumbled onto grass lining the road.

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"So maybe I'll get away Tuesday's stage", which is a rolling run into the Alps and looks flawless for him.

"It's really hard to describe", Degenkolb said after crossing the line.

While Porte headed for hospital, their likely Plan B Tejay Van Garderen - who started the day just nine seconds off yellow - got himself caught up in crashes and conceded more nearly six minutes to effectively rule himself out of contention.

Degenkolb took the win by holding off Van Avermaet and Quick-Step Floors' Yves Lampaert in a sprint to the line after they had broken off the front of the peloton with 20km to go.

While Degenkolb and Sagan may have carte blanche to race for the win, Van Avermaet may have to protect his BMC team leader Richie Porte.

"I'm relieved to get this stage behind us, I'm really looking forward to the mountains now, where the real race will start".

"I've had bad luck, but I always had the will to come back to my best".

But Van Avermaet, the Olympic road race champion, is not a good climber and acknowledged that he has little chance of keeping the yellow jersey over the next three stages in the Alps.

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