Australia's biggest 2017 Tour de France hopeful Richie Porte is out of the running after a sickening 72km/h collision on day nine of the race.
Porte was hurtling down the final descent of the treacherous Mont du Chat on Sunday when he lost control on a twist in the road and came off his bike, skidding across the tarmac and into a rock wall, where he was hit by trailing Irish rider Dan Martin.
The Tasmanian has a broken collar bone, broken pelvis and extensive cuts and grazes, but initial fears of brain damage after his head collided with the solid wall have been allayed.
It's believed his helmet saved him from more extensive injuries. He remained conscious throughout the crash and was able to talk to medics as they arrived to assess him minutes after the crash.
The BMC lead rider was in a contender's position in fifth place overall before the smash but has now been ruled out of the tour, with the team's doctor Max Testa saying it will take at least four weeks before Porte gets back on his bike.
"He was responsive and he remembered everything that happened before and after the crash," Testa said.
Testa said the medical team will re-evaluate Porte on Monday to see if he is well enough to be transferred back home to Australia.
"If everything goes to plan, Richie could be back on the bike at the beginning of August and slowly build his fitness up from there. Based on Richie's recovery, we will re-evaluate his program for the rest of the season in consultation with BMC Racing Team management."
Fellow competitor Dan Martin was also knocked off his bike as Porte careened into him, both men getting smashed against the rock wall. Here's what Martin's helmet looked like following the crash:
Incredibly, the Irishman avoided serious injury and was able to resume racing, losing only one minute and 15 seconds due to the crash and finishing the day in sixth place.
There were high hopes for Porte's 2017 Tour.
The 32-year-old told HuffPost Australia back in January "this has to be my year", before going on to dominate the Tour Down Under later that month.
He finished an impressive fifth in the Tour de France last year -- his first time as lead rider in the BMC team -- despite numerous set backs, including a nasty collision with a camera-mounted motorbike.
Porte's Italian BMC team sports director Fabio Baldato expressed his regret at the race-finishing crash, but also made clear he put the rider's health first.
"Richie did a lot of work for this Tour de France since the start of the year. Reconnaissance, training camps, we did everything possible to put him on the podium. We put the whole team around him. For sure it's sad," he told reporters.
"I hope he can come back stronger. He deserved a good result."
ALSO ON HUFFPOST AUSTRALIA