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Equestrian rider Fox-Pitt leads 10 months after fall from horse

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The Rio Olympics are filled with stories of athletes who have managed to overcome various obstacles in order to earn the opportunity to compete on the world’s greatest stage. But in the case of Great Britain’s William Fox-Pitt, his trek to Rio was one few expected him to make due to a traumatic accident suffered during the World Young Horse Championships in France last October. Fox-Pitt fell from his horse during the cross country competition, suffering head trauma that led to doctors placing him in an induced coma.

Fox-Pitt faced an arduous rehabilitation process, and few expected him to be able to represent his nation in the Summer Olympics. But Fox-Pitt beat the odds, and through the first day of competition at the equestrian venue he leads the eventing individual dressage competition with a score of 37.00. Despite having to re-learn many of the “basic” physical activities we tend to take for granted Fox-Pit was back in the saddle two months after the injury, and he returned to competition in mid-May.

Fox-Pitt said: “After the accident, I lost a lot of strength as you would imagine.

“I couldn’t pick up my child, I couldn’t walk up the stairs, I couldn’t walk to the stables.

“My body completely deteriorated, I couldn’t drive for six months.

“In the two weeks in which I was unconscious, I lost 12kg. It has been quite the journey.”

Fox-Pitt also had a lot to do in his recovery when it came to his eyesight. There were visits with a specialist to help correct his vision, a key attribute for any athlete to have much less one expected to guide an equine through a course with few mistakes.

Four months of his recovery time included twice weekly visits to Bournemouth eye specialist Dr Shayler to correct his vision.

He said: “I was his project. He had to retrain my eyes to be straight again and be focused not be blurred. In the beginning I had double vision, and I couldn’t see very well.

“It did affect my riding. I could ride on the flat, but jumping was tricky. One fence suddenly became four, and I didn’t know which one we were jumping until the last minute!”

Riding Chilli Morning, Fox-Pitt will look to win his first Olympic medal on Sunday at the equestrian venue.

Richie Porte crashes out of Tour de France again

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Australian Richie Porte crashed out of the Tour de France on the ninth stage for a second straight year, suffering a fractured right clavicle six miles into Sunday’s stage.

“Obviously I’m devastated,” Porte said, according to Team BMC. “For the second year in a row I am ending the Tour de France like this. I was on the ground before I knew it, and straight away felt pain in my right shoulder.”

Porte, who finished fifth in the 2016 Tour de France and was an overall podium contender these last two years, was seen sitting on the side of the road, gritting his teeth and crossing his right arm over his chest.

There was a mass stoppage of riders, with at least one spectator down on the side of the narrow road. The crash came well before the Tour stage was to hit 15 arduous cobblestone sections totaling 13 miles.

Porte was in 10th place after eight stages, 57 seconds behind race leader and BMC teammate Greg Van Avermaet. Avermaet and American Tejay van Garderen, in third place, were expected to work for Porte in the mountains later this week, hoping to put him in the yellow jersey.

Now, Van Garderen is in line to be the team leader.

In 2017, Porte fractured his clavicle and pelvis on a ninth-stage crash on a descent and had to abandon the Tour.

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Chris Froome, other stars crash on Tour de France cobblestones stage

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Richie PorteTejay van GarderenRigoberto UranMikel Landa. Even Chris Froome.

Stage nine of the Tour de France promised to rattle the top riders, and the 15 sections of cobblestones totaling 13 miles delivered just that. All of the named men crashed on Sunday, with Porte abandoning the Grand Tour altogether (albeit he crashed before the first cobbles section, six miles into the stage).

In the end, German John Degenkolb got the stage win ahead of overall race leader Greg Van Avermaet and Yves Lampaert.

Van Avermaet, the Olympic road race champion from Belgium, retained the yellow jersey for a sixth straight day, extending his lead to 43 seconds over Brit Geraint Thomas. Van Avermaet rides for Team BMC, which lost its team leader in Porte.

American van Garderen presumably became the new team leader, but he crashed later in the stage and also suffered three flat tires.

Van Garderen entered the day third in the overall standings, nine seconds behind Van Avermaet. He ended it in 30th place, 6:05 behind Van Avermaet.

The best-placed favorite to finish on the podium in Paris on July 29 is now the four-time Tour winner Froome, in eighth place, 1:42 behind Van Avermaet. Froome is trying to tie the record of five Tour titles shared by Jacques AnquetilEddy MerckxBernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

The Tour takes its first of two rest days Monday, resuming with the first day in the Alps on Tuesday live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold (full broadcast schedule here). Stage 10 features a beyond-category climb and three category-one climbs.

“I’m relieved to get through today and looking forward to getting into the mountains now where the real race for GC (general classification) will start,” Froome said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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