New Zealand cyclist Greg Henderson has been forced out of the Tour de France after crashing on the fourth stage to Lille today.

The 37-year-old crashed with about 20kms to go in the race, landing heavily on his knee.

It left Henderson with a 12cm split on his knee which left his patella exposed.

Henderson is now heading back to the Team Lotto-Belisol base in Belgium to undergo surgery and he is in doubt for the Commonwealth Games later this month.

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Thanks for the messages. Silly crash and I landed on my weak knee. It just exploded. Messy looking thing. Off to Surgery now. #keepuposted

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Henderson is the leadout man for the Lotto-Belisol sprinter Andre Greipel, with the German saying it's now going to be difficult without the New Zealander.

Giant-Shimano rider Marcel Kittel won yet again on the Tour de France, grabbing his third stage of four in the sprint into Lille.

Tour de France in association with Skoda