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  • Geraint Thomas crashed on the damp descent of the Col de la Biche in stage nine
  • The 31-year-old rider was taken to hospital with a suspected broken collarbone
  • Team Sky released a statement confirming Thomas had withdrawn from the tour

Ian Parker, Press Association

Geraint Thomas is out of the Tour de France after crashing on Sunday’s stage nine from Nantua to Chambery.

The Welshman suffered a suspected broken collarbone in a crash on the damp descent of the Col de la Biche, the first of three hors categorie climbs on a day expected to shake up the battle for the yellow jersey.

Team Sky announced the news on Twitter, saying: ‘Sadly @GeraintThomas86 has been forced to abandon #TDF2017 following that crash. More updates when we have them.’

Geraint Thomas has been forced to abandon the Tour de France after crashing on stage nine

Geraint Thomas has been forced to abandon the Tour de France after crashing on stage nine

Geraint Thomas has been forced to abandon the Tour de France after crashing on stage nine

Thomas began the day second in the general classification, 12 seconds behind his Team Sky team-mate Chris Froome, and his exit will come as a major blow for the three-time Tour winner.

It was a fourth crash of the race for Thomas, who spent four days in the yellow jersey after winning the opening time trial in Dusseldorf last weekend.

He had crashed twice while wearing the yellow jersey, first in an incident which also brought Froome down on stage two and secondly in a pile-up in Mondorf-les-Bains, moments before the crash which ended Mark Cavendish’s participation in the Tour.

On Saturday’s stage eight to Station des Rousses, Thomas and Froome went into a corner too fast on a descent, with Thomas hitting a hay bale and taking the scab off a wound suffered in one of the earlier crashes.

Thomas (right) was taken to hospital to hospital with a suspected broken collarbone 

Thomas (right) was taken to hospital to hospital with a suspected broken collarbone 

Thomas (right) was taken to hospital to hospital with a suspected broken collarbone 

Australian rider Richie Porte also withdrew from a the Tour after suffering a separate crash

Australian rider Richie Porte also withdrew from a the Tour after suffering a separate crash

Australian rider Richie Porte also withdrew from a the Tour after suffering a separate crash

The 31-year-old had come into the Tour after his bid to win the Giro d’Italia in May ended in a crash – caused by a police motorbike – on stage nine to Blockhaus.

After several days of blazing heat on the Tour, rain came on Sunday to make the descents of this mountainous 181.5km stage treacherous, with Thomas one of several riders to fall in the early going.

Three riders from the day’s break – Movistar’s Jesus Herrada plus Alexey Lutsenko and Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev of Astana – had crashed on the same corner as Thomas minutes before the peloton arrived.

Two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador also hit the deck as he fell on the ascent of the Grand Colombier, but the Spaniard was quickly back on his way with a push from spectators. 

Team Sky rider Chris Froome retained the yellow jersey after coming home third on stage nine

Team Sky rider Chris Froome retained the yellow jersey after coming home third on stage nine

Team Sky rider Chris Froome retained the yellow jersey after coming home third on stage nine

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