Vincenzo Nibali won Monday's Bastille Day 10th stage of the Tour de France to reclaim the leader's yellow jersey as two-time former winner Alberto Contador abandoned the race.
Nibali overhauled Joaquim Rodriguez in the final kilometre to win the stage by 15 sec.
Frenchman Thibaut Pinot finished second, while Spaniard Alejandro Valverde finished third at 20sec.
Today’s finish put Nibali back into the race lead, having relinquished it for a single day to Frenchman Tony Gallopin. Gallopin dropped to fifth overall after coming home 4min 46sec down.
Australian Richie Porte is second overall at 2:23 after finishing seventh on the stage. Valverde is up to third at 2:47.
Contador drops out after crash
Yet the biggest news of the day came halfway through the stage as the Tour lost its second star performer in under a week.
Following the withdrawal of reigning champion Chris Froome last Wednesday after breaking his left wrist and right hand in a succession of crashes over two days, it was Contador's turn to fall badly.
The 31-year-old Spaniard injured his knee and although he continued after receiving lengthy treatment from the race doctor, he lasted only another 15km before climbing off his bike and into a Tinkoff-Saxo team car.
The cyclist cried as he pulled out of the race.
Once Nibali's Astana team heard of Contador's crash they accelerated the peloton but when news filtered through that he had abandoned, they eased off.
Yet they took the race by the reins over the final two first category climbs of a punishing stage that included seven categorised ascents.
By then a breakaway led by the indefatigable Tony Martin -- the winner of Sunday's ninth stage after an incredible 150km escape -- had been reduced from 13 to nine riders by the relentless pace set by the German.
Martin spent around 120km in front of his young OPQS team leader Michal Kwiatkowski as the entire breakaway group sat behind, letting him do all the work.
When he pulled off 20km from the end, Kwiatkowski broke out for home but Rodriguez proved stronger and left the young Pole in his wake.
The peloton was closing in quickly. Nibali's faithful lieutenants Jakob Fuglsang and Michele Scarponi led the charge. Scarponi had an amazing recovery himself. He climbed off the tarmac after a crash to catch the peloton and still pace his Italian compatriot up the final climb.
With 3km left, Nibali launched his attack and no-one could respond.
Porte led the chase but he paid for that in the finish as several other riders accelerated past him.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2014-07-14