The race must go on
11 Jul 17
What a week.
Weary riders have welcomed the first 2017 Tour de France rest day, with fans around the world now reflecting on opening stages that saw big names including Richie Porte, Geraint Thomas and Peter Sagan sidelined.
Porte crashed at 72.5 km/h while descending the Mont du Chat on stage nine and was hospitalised with a fractured pelvis, broken collarbone and extensive abrasions. His dreams of capitalising on a stellar season and finishing on the Tour de France podium were lost instantly. Vision of the horrifying collision prompted an outpouring of concern from the cycling community; many, including Porte himself, were surprised the outcome wasn’t worse.
“Obviously, I've felt much better than what I do right now. I’m in a fair bit of pain and it’s a big disappointment to be honest,” Porte said.
“I think I was in great form and the team were really strong around me too, so it’s disappointing but I think after seeing the crash I’m lucky that I have come away with the injuries I have.”
BMC Racing Team medical officer Max Testa said Porte could potentially return to his bike in early August and begin rebuilding his fitness. Hopes are high that the Tasmanian will emerge from the ordeal with even more resolve to conquer the Tour de France as a GC contender.
Team Sky star Geraint Thomas was also forced to abandon the face on stage nine after crashing and breaking his collarbone. His exit is a blow to teammate and race leader Chris Froome, who begins stage 10 with an 18-second lead over Astana’s Fabio Aru. Controversy surrounded the pair after Aru appeared to take advantage of Froome’s mechanical while ascending the Mont du Chat, an attack quickly brought under control by rivals.
Other riders absent as the race moves into its second week include Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Mark Renshaw (Team Dimension Data) and Arnaud Démare (Française des Jeux), with the latter two finishing outside the time limit on stage nine.
Australian Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) is second to Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) in a battle for the green sprint jersey, a competition thrown wide open following the departure of BORA-hansgrohe’s Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish of Team Dimension Data on stage four.
ORICA-Scott is pinning its hopes on British team member Simon Yates, who leads the young rider classification by almost three minutes over UAE Team Emirates rival Louis Meintjes.
Stage 10 will see the peloton travel between Périgueux and Bergerac in the Dordogne, with action then turning towards the Pyrenees and a brutal series of climbs on the 214.5-km stage 12. One thing’s for sure: nothing is guaranteed as the world’s best cyclists vie for the ultimate prize.
The 2017 Tour de France finishes on 23 July.