Porte crashes out of Tour a second time

Roger Vaughan
Richie Porte was in obvious pain after his crash on stage nine of the Tour de France

The ticking of the clock on Richie Porte's grand tour dream is now pounding away in his head.

At 33, time is starting to run out for the Australian cycling star to realise his potential in one of the sport's three main stage races.

The Tasmanian was left in tears on the side of the road after he crashed out of the Tour de France with a fractured right clavicle.

For the second year in a row, the Tour's ninth stage was cursed for Porte.

His wife Gemma simply Tweeted: "I hate cycling!"

But his busted shoulder is nowhere near as bad as the injuries Porte suffered when he had a sickening high-speed crash on the Mont du Chat descentlast year.

A non-displaced clavicle fracture is an occupational hazard for a professional cyclist and Porte is already out of hospital.

Unless there are any unforeseen complications, Porte will be cycling indoors within a week and could return to racing next month.

It's more a question of what Porte does next - for the rest of this season and then the rest of his career.

"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," Porte said in a BMC team statement.

"I hope to recover as fast as possible and get back to racing."

There is already strong speculation that when team moves are revealed from August 1, Porte will announce he is leaving BMC and heading to Trek-Segafredo.

After Cadel Evans suffered through a disastrous Tour de France in 2009, the Australian revealed he was leaving Silence-Lotto and joining BMC.

That September he made Australian cycling history by winning the elite world road race championship.

It was a crossroads moment in his career and two years later Evans won the Tour de France.

Just as Evans shone on the Mendrisio circuit nine years ago, the steep climbs on the course for this September's road worlds at Innsbruck in Austria are ideal for Porte.

The Tasmanian could now aim for the Vuelta a Espana, cycling's last three-week grand tour for the year - after the Giro d'Italia and the Tour.

The Vuelta will run from August 25 to September 16, with the men's world championship road race on September 30.

Forgotten in the immediate aftermath of Porte's latest Tour de France disaster is that up until Sunday he was enjoying a great season.

He had recovered from last year's horrific Tour crash with no apparent complications and after an early-season illness in Europe Porte claimed probably the biggest win of his career when he took out the Tour de Suisse.

Assuming Porte goes to Trek-Segafredo, they have wanted a grand tour contender since Alberto Contador's retirement, it appears a good fit for rider and team.

Porte has shown he can perform in grand tours, with top-10 finishes at the Tour de France and Giro.

But taking the next step to his dream of a podium finish in Paris is proving a painful, brutal mountain to climb.

And time is running out.

Evans was one of the oldest champions at 34.

Porte's 2018 demise 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, they have put all their resources behind British overall hope Adam Yates.

Australian star Michael Matthews, the reigning green jersey champion, abandoned the race before stage five because of illness.