Of the many comments made about Richie Porte’s terrifying Tour de France exit, two stand out.
They came from the riders involved in the 70km/h crash on a slight left-hander halfway down the Mont du Chat in the Jura Mountains, 20 kilometres from the finish of the ninth stage into Chambery.
Dan Martin was the rider Porte took with him as he slid across the bitumen into a rocky embankment, his bike having already disappeared into the abyss down the other side of the road.
“I guess the organisers got what they wanted,” said the Irishman as he reflected on the crash, and others like it, that caused five riders to abandon the Tour including two – Porte and Geraint Thomas – from the top five.
“I don’t think anyone wanted to take risks there, but it was so slippery under the trees. Richie locked up his back wheel, went straight into the grass, just wiped out, and his bike collected me. I had nowhere to go.
“We take the risks, but for sure today the route didn’t help.”
Porte’s observation meanwhile came several months earlier as he cast what turned out to be a prophetic eye over the upcoming 3540km route from Dusseldorf to Paris.
“About four stages end with a descent to the finish and that just adds a bit of danger where I would prefer to finish at the top of the mountain,” Porte told The Examiner.
“It does change things but at the end of the day the road will decide as it always does so there’s not much point moaning about it.”
Stage 9 was one of those four and a 181.5km beast of a day that most of the race’s 198 starters were most dreading.
About four stages end with a descent to the finish and that just adds a bit of dangerRichie Porte discussing the Tour de France route earlier this year
Some cynical observers suggested the decision to limit the number of genuine mountain-top finishes to just three and add plateaus or descents beyond the final climb to other mountainous stages was a bid to end the monopoly of pure-bred climbers like Chris Froome.
While it contributed to the carnage it hardly achieved that result. The dramatic day finished with several riders in hospital but also Froome still leading the way towards his fourth title.
Rain obviously didn’t help but was always going to be a possibility and so should have been factored in.
The route was given a trial run as part of the Criterium du Dauphine a month ago and did feature a thrilling downhill duel between joint Tour favourites Porte and Froome on the very road where the former crashed on Sunday.
But that taster merely soured what was already looming as a recipe for disaster.
Like Porte, the sport’s most respected website cyclingnews was also expecting fireworks on a stage of seven climbs, three of which are so formidable as to be considered beyond categorisation, or Hors Categorie in the local lingo.
Adding to the chorus that big summit finishes have been “suffocated” by the strongest teams to the point of becoming “tactically unexciting”, the site’s pre-Tour preview to stage 9 concluded: “If you are going to watch any single stage of the Tour, it should be this one.”
Hard to argue with that statement.
But in the hunt for value for money entertainment, Porte, Thomas plus Dutchmen Jos Van Emden and Robert Gesink and Italian Manuele Mori paid a huge price.
The painful exit is the latest in a long line of misfortune for Porte, who must cycle under a lot of ladders on his regular pre-season Sideling circuits.
After being penalised for a donated wheel, puncturing within sight of safety, colliding with motorbikes, breaking a shoulderblade in the Olympics and then collarbone in Le Tour, Porte picked a mountain named after a cat to use up another of his nine lives.
His crash prompted a flood of Twitter sympathy from rivals like Froome and Luke Rowe, fellow Tasmanian Tour de France participants Matt Goss and Wes Sulzberger and Australian greats including Stuart O’Grady, Robbie McEwen and Michael Rogers.
Froome also provided a telling postscript to the action-packed stage by revealing that, shortly before crashing, Porte had made a significant sporting contribution.
The yellow jersey wearer suffered a mechanical on the way up Mont du Chat, at which point rival Fabio Aru chose to attack.
Such a scenario is deemed unsporting in cycling etiquette and Porte led the call for the peloton to give Froome time to get repaired.
"When I got back to the group it looked like Richie had said to the other main rivals, 'This is not the moment to attack the leader of the race when he has a mechanical problem,'" Froome said later.
"I want to say thanks to Richie and the group for not taking advantage at that point."
Coming just five days after the controversial disqualification of world champion Peter Sagan, Porte’s exit leaves the Tour in a poorer state – and might also be partly attributed to race organisers.