Richie Porte is upbeat and hopes to be back on the road soon after a broken collarbone ended his Tour de France campaign on the same notorious stage that was his undoing last year.
Porte, who had been sitting in 10th place overall 57 seconds behind race leader and Belgian teammate Greg van Avermaet, is frustrated to have to end another campaign.
“For the second year in a row I am ending the Tour de France like this. I was on the ground before I knew it and straight away felt pain in my right shoulder,” Porte said.
“I want to say a big thank you to my teammates for their incredible work over the first nine days.
“We had a great first week and I’m so disappointed that I won’t be continuing to Paris. I hope to recover as fast as possible and get back to racing.”
— CyclingCentral (@CyclingCentral) July 15, 2018
The Australian cycling star was caught in a crash just 10 kilometres into the 156.5km stage nine from Arras Citadelle to Roubaix on Sunday.
Porte and other riders had been wary ahead of the infamous cobblestone sections but his crash happened well before he hit any of them.
BMC Racing team doctor Max Testa says Porte, who has been discharged from hospital, will need to rest for a week before he begins his recovery.
“From what we know at this point, it looks like a straightforward injury and one that is quite common in cycling,” he said in a statement to cyclingnews.com.
“We are expecting him to be back on the bike training in probably three to four weeks and potentially racing in six to eight weeks. We will continue to monitor Richie’s recovery and adjust the plan accordingly.”
Several other riders, including Porte’s teammate Stefan Kung, went down in the same crash.
Porte was one of the main rivals to British defending Tour champion Chris Froome, who is riding for his fifth title.
Porte’s best finish at the Tour was fifth in 2016.
The Tasmanian had also lost time when he was caught in a crash on stage one, but it was not disastrous.
Porte’s goal was to make it through the Roubaix cobbles ahead of Monday’s rest day and then a succession of stages in the Alps, where he would try to stamp his overall claims.
His ultimate aim was to be the first Australian to make the Tour podium since Cadel Evans made history by winning in 2011.
Porte was also well-placed in last year’s race, when he had a sickening high-speed crash on the Mont du Chat descent during the ninth stage.
He suffered a fractured pelvis and a broken collarbone, but recovered well.
Porte showed he was ready for this year’s Tour by winning the Tour de Suisse last month, probably the biggest title of his career.
At 33, time is running out for Porte to stay a Tour contender.
Evans was one of the oldest champions at 34.
Porte’s disaster means the three main Australian drawcards for the Tour this year either have not started or are out of the race.
Australian team Mitchelton-Scott controversially did not pick young sprint ace Caleb Ewan.
Instead, Mitchelton-Scott have put all their resources behind British overall hope Adam Yates.
Australian star Michael Matthews, the reigning green jersey champion, also abandoned the race before stage five because of illness.