Tour de France: Dan Martin loses ground after two falls

Nine men one mission... Team Sky

Australian Richie Porte was taken to hospital after crashing spectacularly out of the Tour de France on a treacherous and costly ninth stage.

Overall, Froome leads Aru by 18 seconds and Bardet by 51.

"Richie (Porte) was quite instrumental in slowing that group down, saying this is not the time to attack the leader of the race, so thanks to Richie and I hope he makes a speedy recovery".

However, organisers said he was conscious and speaking but was being taken to hospital.

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However, he suffered his fourth crash of the race on Sunday and was forced to abandon, having suffered a similar fate at the Giro d'Italia earlier this year, when a crash caused by a police bike, also on stage nine, caused injuries which ultimately forced him to withdraw a few days later.

The Col de la Biche was the first of three hors categorie climbs to be tackled on a brutal day of racing through the Jura mountains.

And yet the Tour had started so well for the 31-year-old Briton, who won the opening stage time-trial, his first ever Tour stage victory, and held the yellow jersey for four days before giving it up to Froome on Wednesday's fifth stage.

Bardet, riding on familiar roads - his AG2R-La Mondiale team is based here - attacked on the final descent and got clear.

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But other contenders, including twice former runner-up Nairo Quintana of Colombia, lost more than a minute, as did Dan Martin, who courageously battled on despite being taken down by Porte's spectacular crash, and even coming off his bike a second time on that same perilous descent.

Thomas had crashed on another descent much earlier in the stage and quit the Tour with a fractured collarbone.

After a well-earned rest day, the Tour resumes on Tuesday with a largely flat 178km Stage 10 from Perigueux to Bergerac, which should reopen the doors to the sprinters.

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