Tour de France braces for bone-shaking cobbles

Porte was in tears following the crash and it is believed he has sustained a broken collarbone.

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.

Belgian Greg van Avermaet retained the overall leader's yellow jersey."My shape is getting better by the day, I'm proud that I won again today", said Groenewegen, who won the final stage on the Champs Elysees previous year.

Chris Froome went headfirst into a grass verge and ended nearly two minutes off yellow but could call Sunday a success as he survived a chaotic day on the Tour de France when others were not so lucky.

Australian cyclist Richie Porte's heartbreak with the Tour de France has continued after he was forced to withdraw following a horrific crash on Sunday night.

Van Avermaet expertly navigated the cobbles to finish second behind stage victor John Degenkolb and increased his lead over Froome's Sky teammate Geraint Thomas in the overall standing to 43 seconds.

It was an impressive performance from Bardet to limit his losses, given the AG2R La Mondiale rider suffered three punctures during the stage. The German rider won the Paris-Roubaix single-day classic, which covers much of the same course, in 2015. You didn't need to be a rocket scientist to know that this cobbled stage was always going to be Richie's biggest challenge, but he didn't even get a smell of the Pave'.

Van Avermaet's teammate Tejay van Garderen and Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe of Quick-Step are five and six seconds back respectively.

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Both Team Sky riders finished in the front group, 27 second behind stage victor John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) with most of their overall rivals.

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

Most of the general classification contenders crossed the line in the main bunch to hold station but UAE Team Emirates' Dan Martin lost 76 seconds after being caught in a crash with 17 kilometres to go.

But Van Avermaet, who predicted he would lose the yellow jersey before stages Tuesday and Wednesday, cracked on the second of three major climbs Wednesday.

Porte's team, BMC Racing, confirmed Porte had headed to hospital for an "examination".

That cobblestone challenge will be followed by a rest day on Monday before the race shifts to its first mountain stages in the Alps.

The further route of the race can be found here.

I just hope it doesn't break his spirit.

  • Lawrence Cooper