Michael Matthews is set to become only the third Australian to win the Tour de France green jersey after rival Marcel Kittel abandoned the race.

Kittel was involved in a crash near the start of stage 17 on Wednesday and badly injured his shoulder.

He was narrowly leading the points competition ahead of Matthews at the time, but could not continue riding and pulled out of the event with just four days to go.

It means Matthews now has a massive 160 point lead over Andre Greipel and just needs to safely ride to the finish line in Paris on Sunday to join fellow Aussies Robbie McEwen and Baden Cooke as TDF green jersey winners. 

Although delighted, the 26-year-old from Canberra was disappointed to see Kittel withdraw.

“You never want to see a guy out of a race like this, it’s been such a good battle up to this point and I hope Kittel is OK,” he said.

“It’s never nice to take a jersey like this – it’s been a nice three weeks fighting it out.”

Kittel is the latest contender for the green jersey to fail to finish the tour with five-time winner Peter Sagan kicked out for causing a crash that forced 2011 points champion Mark Cavendish to pull out injured.

The German said: “Started Le Tour with tears of joy and finished with tears of big disappointment.”

Elsewhere on a mountainous stage 17, Primoz Roglic crossed the line first with overall leader Chris Froome staying in the yellow jersey thanks to his third place. Froome leads Rigoberto Uran and Romain Bardet by 27 seconds, with an exciting finale expected to the race.