Thomas (in white) has helped Froome (in yellow) win two of his three Tour de France titles

Britain’s Geraint Thomas has been forced to abandon the Tour de France after crashing on stage nine.

The Team Sky rider, one of race leader Chris Froome’s key helpers in the mountains, came off on a descent.

Welshman Thomas, who was second overall at the start of the stage, has a suspected broken collarbone, according to the Tour’s official website.

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

The 31-year-old crashed on the damp descent of the Col de la Biche, just under halfway through the mountainous 181.5km stage from Nantua to Chambery. He tried to ride on but was unable to do so.

It was Thomas’s fourth crash of the Tour, having also gone down on the second, fourth and eighth stages.

Thomas also crashed out of the Giro d’Italia in May – caused by a police motorbike – on stage nine, when he was Team Sky’s race leader.

His absence will be a blow to Froome, who is trying to win a third successive Tour de France and fourth title in five years.

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