Tour de France 2014: Alberto Contador pulls out on stage 10
Two-time champion Alberto Contador has pulled out of the Tour de France after a heavy crash on stage 10.
The Spaniard crashed on a descent and was later revealed to have fractured a bone in his right leg.
Astana's Vincenzo Nibali won the stage to reclaim the yellow jersey.
Contador, who rides for the Tinkoff-Saxo team, is the third former champion to withdraw from the race, following 2013 winner Chris Froome and 2010 champion Andy Schleck.
"Before pulling out, he told us he was in awful pain and he couldn't go any further on his bike," said Tinkoff-Saxo sports director Philippe Mauduit.
|Rob Hayles - BBC Radio 5 live commentator|
|"It just goes to show that nobody has the right to make Paris. In a flick of a switch, anything can happen. Vincenzo Nibali looked the outright favourite and probably still is, but he still has to get through."|
"Everything had gone well since the beginning of the Tour. In a fraction of a second, it all fell apart, so we're immensely sad."
Team manager Bjarne Riis said that Contador would probably need surgery on his fractured tibia.
"Alberto crashed on a fast and straight part of the descent," he added. "He was reaching for his pocket and the bike was swept away under him probably because of a bump or hole in the road."
Contador, who won the race in 2007 and 2009, attempted to keep his 2014 campaign alive after his fall, riding on after getting treatment on a badly cut right knee and replacing his damaged shoes.
|Tour de France - the riders forced out|
|Stage 1 (July 5)||Mark Cavendish (Gbr)||Stage 7 (July 11)||Danny van Poppel (Ned)|
|Stage 2 (July 6)||Sacha Modolo (Ita)||Darwin Atapuma (Col)|
|Stage 4 (July 8)||Gregory Henderson (Nzl)||Stef Clement (Ned)|
|Andy Schleck (Lux)||Mathias Frank (Swi)|
|Stage 5 (July 9)||Chris Froome (Gbr)||Stage 8 (July 12)||Bart De Clercq (Bel)|
|Maximiliano Richeze (Arg)||Stage 9 (July 13)||Egoitz Garcia (Spa)|
|Stage 6 (July 10)||Jesus Hernandez (Spa)||Stage 10 (July 14)||Mathew Hayman (Aus)|
|Egor Silin (Rus)||Edward King (USA)|
|Xabier Zandio (Spa)||Alberto Contador (Spa)|
But with four minutes to make up on the peloton and in severe pain, he pulled to the side of the road and was helped into a team car.
Contador's withdrawal further enhances Nibali's prospects of a first Tour victory after the Italian reasserted his authority over the field with a superb attack on the final climb.
Nibali, who had lost the overall lead to Lotto-Belisol's Tony Gallopin on stage nine, came home 15 seconds clear of FDJ's Thibaut Pinot to ensure a swift return to the yellow jersey.
Team Sky's Richie Porte, who crossed in seventh, and Movistar's Alejandro Valverde, who finished third, are his nearest rivals, but both are more than two minutes adrift.
Nibali described Contador's fall as "spectacular", while Porte and Froome called the Spaniard's retirement "a shame" and "a big loss".
|Contador on Froome||Froome on Contador|
|Alberto Contador's tweet of support when Chris Froome exited the Tour on 9 July:||Chris Froome's Twitter response following Alberto Contador's Tour exit:|
|"From here I want to give support to Chris Froome, months of work and everything gone. A big loss for the Tour. See you here next year."||"Big loss for the TDF today. Recover well @albertocontador & I hope to see you at the Vuelta."|
Contador, who was stripped of the 2010 Tour title for doping, is one of only five riders to have won all three of cycling's Grand Tours - the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta d'Espana.
The Vuelta d'Espana now represents this season's only remaining chance of a Grand Tour victory for former Tour de France champions Froome, Contador and Bradley Wiggins.
Stage 10 result:
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana) 4hrs 27mins 26secs
2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/FDJ) +15secs
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +20secs
4. Jean Christophe Peraud (Fra/AG2R) same time
5. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R) +22secs
6. Tejay Van Garderen (US/BMC) same time
7. Richie Porte (Aus/Team Sky) +25secs
8. Leopold Konig (Czh/Netapp-Endura) +50secs
9. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa/Katusha) +52secs
10. Mikel Nieve (Spa/team Sky) +54secs
19. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) +1min 23secs.
24. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol/Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +2mins 13 secs
33. Tony Gallopin (Fra/Lotto-Belisol) +4mins 46secs
177. Simon Yates (GB/Orica GreenEdge) +32mins 39secs
General Classification after stage 10:
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana) 42hrs 33mins 38secs
2. Richie Porte (Aus/Team Sky) +2mins 23secs
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +2mins 47secs
4. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R) +3mins 01secs
5. Tony Gallopin (Fra/Lotto-Belisol) +3mins 12secs
6. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/FDJ) +3mins 47secs
7. Tejay van Garderen (US/BMC) +3mins 56secs
8. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra/AG2R) +3mins 57secs
9. Rui Costa (Por/Lampre) +3mins 58secs
10. Bauke Mollema (Ned/Belkin) +4mins 8secs
13. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol/Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +4mins 39secs
14. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) +5mins 17mins
113. Simon Yates (GB/Orica GreenEdge) +1hr 20mins 6secs