Thomas abandons Tour de France following crash

Nine men one mission... Team Sky

Champion Chris Froome retained the yellow jersey after finishing the stage third, behind Frenchman Warren Barguil who missed out on victory in a photo-finish. It meant it was a bitter-sweet day for Froome who, despite increasing his lead and seeing several top rivals lose time, lost his chief Team Sky lieutenant Thomas and good friend Porte.

Geraint Thomas has been forced to abandon the Tour de France following a crash on stage nine, Team Sky have announced.

Thomas had crashed on another descent, made treacherous by rain, earlier in the day, suffering a suspected broken collarbone. He careered across the road and clattered into Ireland's Dan Martin, bringing the two crashing.

While Porte quickly received medical attention on the track, Martin was able to dust himself down and continued racing.

BMC sports director Fabio Baldpate said Porte had remained conscious throughout. "What was important, he was always conscious, he knew what happened".

"I want to thank the other riders, who did not attack", he added, saying he did not see Aru attacking past him as he raised his arms to ask for assistance. "Based on Richie's recovery, we will re-evaluate his program for the rest of the season in consultation with BMC Racing Team management".

Overall, Froome leads Aru by 18 seconds and Romain Bardet by 51 as two-times victor Alberto Contador of Spain cracked on the last climb and dropped out of contention.

Three-times podium finisher Nairo Quintana of Colombia also struggled, losing 1:15 to Froome and his group. I've just seen the images of Richie Porte's crash and that leaves you with a disgusting feeling.

Thomas' crash was his fourth of a race he led for four days after winning the opening time trial, something which already feels a long time ago. He is now eighth overall, a massive 2:13 off the pace.

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