Porte crashes out of the Tour de France

Porte crashes out of the Tour de France

At least it stops me having to think of excuses. "I saw Gaviria and Greipel were fighting for position but I saw the finish line and thought, 'This is the moment'". "We were on it all day from kilometre zero; it was three and half hours at full gas", he explained. I lost my leadout men but I was alright.

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

Another emerging force is the nephew of the 1987 Tour de France and Giro victor Stephen Roche, the UAE Team Emirates captain Dan Martin, who broke for a thrilling win on the Mur-de-Bretagne on Thursday. Cavendish was elevated to eighth.

Yellow-jersey holder Greg Van Avermaet crossed second and increased his overall lead to 43 seconds ahead of Geraint Thomas.

Quick Step's Julian Alaphilippe, who started the day in fourth overall was also caught in the fall and appeared to be in severe discomfort in his saddle. After finishing 76 seconds behind the lead group he was seen virtually crawling on to his team bus in pain.

Sunday's 156.5km route from Arras Citadelle to Roubaix was anticipated to provide the most treacherous challenge of the race, mainly due to cobbled sections making up nearly 22km of the stage.

"Everybody said that I was done, after this accident, that I would never come back".

The only incident to interrupt the leg was a pile-up with just under 20K to go.

"I'm fine. Gianni (Moscon) went down, I went over the top, it was just one of those things, just gravel on a cobble section".

Despite his tour upset, Porte said he has his eye on future competitions. But I said I was not done.

"Whatever happens now is bonus", Thomas said.

Those cobblestones lie on Sunday's mini-version of Paris-Roubaix, a race popularly known as "the Hell of the North".

The hot and still conditions made for a dramatic spectacle as dust from the 21.7km of cobbles blew back in the riders' faces like a smoke stack.

The 25-year-old Dutch rider won his second consecutive stage on Saturday, joining world champion Peter Sagan and Tour newcomer Fernando Gaviria as two-stage winners at this edition of the world's leading cycling race.

"I think it's fantastic, I can't find the right words to express how it feels to win", said Degenkolb, who now has stage wins in all three Grand Tours. It was an incredible experience and - in a odd way - I loved every minute.

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