Hospital scans are set to determine the extent of injuries suffered in another devastating setback for luckless Launceston cyclist Richie Porte.
In his first WorldTour race since returning to the INEOS Grenadiers team, the 36-year-old fell heavily, injuring the pelvis he fractured at the 2017 Tour de France.
The accident happened on the opening stage of the Paris-Nice stage race which Porte won in 2013 and '15 and has described as "one of the more mentally gruelling races" on the cycling calendar.
One of several crashes towards the end of a nervy 166-kilometre stage around Saint-Cyr-L'Ecole on the outskirts of Paris, Porte was sent plummeting when a rival swerved into his front wheel.
"I'm 36 on Saturday and I can still win bike races. That's how I want to go out - with happy memories and not being at the back of the bunch getting my head kicked in."@richie_porte talks @LeTour, @INEOSGrenadiers, @Tokyo2020 and @AusCyclingAushttps://t.co/RVZQ8Pfita— Rob Shaw (@TheShawThing) January 29, 2021
Quickly back on his feet, the father-of-two was attended by the race doctor and attempted to ride on. In obvious discomfort with rips to his clothing, he appeared to be struggling with both his injuries and damaged bike before abandoning the race.
The INEOS website reported: "Porte was assessed by the team back at the hotel before being taken to hospital for a scan."
Cycling websites were soon reporting he would have an X-ray and MRI to assess the extent of his injury.
Porte's teammate Ben Swift witnessed the crash.
"We were just waiting for the climbs and as we started to go someone dropped a bottle," he said. "George Bennett hit it and veered left into Richie and took Richie's front wheel out. I was right beside it and saw it.
"I did not know if he would get back up or not because obviously we were moving pretty quick at that point.
"We were waiting for information and then they said he was out."
The crash continues a wretched run of misfortune for Porte who finished on the Tour de France podium last year but crashed out in 2017 and '18 as well as at the 2016 Olympic Games.