Spain's Alberto Contador pulled out of the Tour de France on Monday after suffering a heavy crash during the 10th stage.
Contador, winner of the tour in 2007 and 2009, got off his bike with less than 80 km left and stepped into his Tinkoff-Saxo team car.
The two-time winner crashed on a pass between the Petit Ballon climb and the Col du Platzerwasel. Initially, he tried to soldier on but he needed lengthy medical attention to patch up his knee. He also changed bikes and a shoe before attempting to restart.
He had lost almost four minutes on the peloton by the time he got going again while three teammates dropped back to help try to pace him back.
The 10th stage from Mulhouse included seven categorised climbs, four of which are first categories, and a brutal uphill finish to La Planche des Belles Filles. It is the toughest stage so far.
Frenchman Tony Gallopin is ahead, though he will be hard pushed to keep the jersey and faces still competition from Italian Vincenzo Nibali-who starts the stage 1 minute, 34 seconds behind in second.
The last section of the final ascent up to Belles Filles features a punishing 20 percent gradient that could shake up the pack and give a clearer indication of this year's genuine contenders.
Alberto Contador was previously stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title and given a two-year ban for testing positive of the performance enhancing drug clenbuterol during the Tour when he famously defeated Andy Schleck by 39 seconds to take the yellow jersey.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-07-14