Australian general classification contender Richie Porte is out of the Tour de France after crashing on the ninth stage.
Porte came to grief 10km into the 156.5km stage from Arras Citadelle to Roubaix and has a suspected broken collarbone.
It is the second year in a row BMC Racing Team rider Porte has been forced to abandon the Tour.
He crashed out in dramatic fashion during a mountain descent in 2017 at the same stage.
Porte had improved his position to 10th place in this year’s race after the eighth stage, 57 seconds behind yellow jersey holder and BMC teammate Greg van Avermaet of Belgium.
The 33-year-old was rated among the major threats to Chris Froome claiming a fifth Tour de France victory after finishing fifth behind the Team Sky rider in 2016.
BMC confirmed that Porte has been taken to hospital for X-rays.
“We are devastated to say that @richie_porte has crashed out of stage 9,” BMC posted on Twitter.
“No one could have imagined this is the way Stage 9 would have started but we still have 7 riders in the race and we are behind them 100% of the way.”
Porte came into the Tour in winning form, taking the Tour de Suisse to stamp his claims for at least a podium finish in Paris.
Sunday’s stage involves 22km of cobblestones and Porte’s crash came before any of the uneven sectors.