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Contador forced to abandon Tour after huge crash

ESPN staff
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Alberto Contador was race favourite following Chris Froome's earlier withdrawal © AP
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Alberto Contador abandoned the Tour de France after the Spaniard crashed heavily during Monday's 10th stage, which Vincenzo Nibali won to reclaim the yellow jersey.

Tinkoff-Saxo rider Contador was left with a bloodied knee and was treated for several minutes after he came off his bike during the 161.5 kilometre route between Mulhouse and La Planche des Belles Filles.

He later underwent scans on the injury, which revealed he suffered a fractured shin in the crash. It is expected Contador will undergo surgery to repair the damage.

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The team's sporting director Philippe Mauduit told letour.fr: "Alberto badly crashed. His right knee is seriously injured. The crash has been violent. I have his shoe with me, it's completely destroyed. According to some rumours, his bike has been broken but that's not the case.

"Before pulling out, he told us that he was in an awful pain and he couldn't go any further on his bike.

"It's a pity because everything had gone well since the beginning of the Tour. We had a plan and today's race was unfolding exactly as we wanted. In a fraction of a second, it all fell apart, so we're immensely sad. Tomorrow, it's a rest day. After tomorrow, a new battle will begin. We'll stay united and a new Tour de France will begin for us."

The crash came at the approach to Col du Platzerwasel, the third of six categorised climbs featured in Monday's stage. As a result, Contador lost four minutes on the peloton and nine minutes to the leading pack, which had established a five-minute advantage over the main field.

Despite the two-time champion's best efforts, he was forced to pull out around 80km from the stage finish.

Alberto Contador was said to be in 'awful pain' after his crash © AP
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Contador, one of the pre-race favourites to claim the yellow jersey, has joined defending champion Chris Froome and former winner Andy Schleck in retiring from the event.

His abandonment, which came five days after Froome's withdrawal, means there are now no former Tour de France winners in the remaining field.

Nibali, meanwhile, looks set to profit from Contador's absence and reclaimed the yellow jersey with a remarkable ride through the mountainous stage.

The Astana ride enjoyed a solid race which culminated in an exciting pursuit of Joaquim Rodriguez, some 25 seconds ahead of the Italian, on the final climb.

Nibali went from strength-to-strength as Rodriguez eventually surrendered to his chaser 1.2km from the finish. Thibaut Pinot and Alejandro Valverde were among the next riders home, while Team Sky's Richie Porte crossed the line in seventh.

Porte is now two minutes and 23 seconds behind Nibali in the general classification, while Team Sky's remaining British rider Geraint Thomas sits 14th overall, five minutes 17 seconds off the lead.

Porte told ITV4: "I think I was the only one to respond to Nibali's attack at the end. He has enough time already so you have to react, but I couldn't stay with him

"I sincerely say that it is a shame that Contador is out. I hope Alberto is ok. It is going to change the dynamics of the race. it would have been a different finish if Tinkoff-Saxo were there."

Stage 10 result:

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) Astana Pro Team 4hr 27min 26sec
2. Thibaut Pinot (France) FDJ.fr +15sec
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spain) Movistar Team +20sec
4. Jean-Christophe Péraud (France) AG2R La Mondiale (same time)
5. Romain Bardet (France) AG2R La Mondiale +22sec
6. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team (same time)
7. Richie Porte (Australia) Team Sky +25sec
8. Leopold Konig (Czech) Team Netapp-Endura +50sec
9. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain) Team Katusha +52sec
10. Mikel Nieve Iturralde (Spain) Team Sky +54sec


General classification after stage 10:

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) Astana Pro Team 42hr 33min 38sec
2. Richie Porte (Australia) Team Sky + 2min 23sec
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spain) Movistar Team + 2min 47sec
4. Romain Bardet (France) AG2R La Mondiale + 3min 01sec
5. Tony Gallopin (France) Lotto-Belisol + 3min 12sec
6. Thibaut Pinot (France) FDJ.fr + 3min 47sec
7. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team + 3min 56sec
8. Jean-Christophe Péraud (France) AG2R La Mondiale + 3min 57sec
9. Rui Alberto Costa (Portugal) Lampre - Merida + 3min 58sec
10. Bauke Mollema (Netherlands) Belkin Pro Cycling +4min 08sec

Vincenzo Nibali is back in yellow after this stage win © AP
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