Tour de France 2017: Geraint Thomas out after crash on stage nine

Australian Richie Porte is out of the Tour de France after he crashed heavily during a high-speed descent during the ninth stage on Sunday.

It meant it was a bitter-sweet day for Froome who, despite increasing his lead and seeing several top rivals lose time, lost his chief Team Sky lieutenant Thomas and good friend Porte.

His team Racing BMC say he has been taken to hospital.

"He was conscious, it's reassuring, he is being transferred to the hospital", Pommery said.

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.

Tour de France doctor Florence said Porte had spoken after the fall but that the extent of his injuries would not be known until after X-rays.

While Quintana fought back to limit his losses alongside the likes of Martin and British youngster Simon Yates - the white jersey from Orica-Scott - Contador struggled en route to finishing more than four minutes down on Froome.

He won stage one of this year's race and wore the leader's yellow jersey until Froome took it after stage five.

"He (Porte) did it four times before the race, he did it in training, he did it in a race (the Criterium du Dauphine)".

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

He careered across the road and clattered into Ireland's Dan Martin, bringing the two crashing into the rocky side of the road in the final 25km of the 181.5km stage from Nantua to Chambery.

Quick-Step Floors rider Martin got back on his bike after he took a new wheel from a neutral support vehicle.

Porte had been having an exceptional day on the bike, riding in the yellow jersey group chasing the last remaining breakaway rider, Warren Barguil (Sunweb), when he appeared to misjudge a bend.