Alberto Contador, the Spanish cyclist who has won the Tour de France twice, quit the race after a crash on a rainy mountain stage.
The 31-year-old captain of the Tinkoff-Saxo team was among the favorites to win the 22-day race after 2013 champion Chris Froome withdrew July 9 after three crashes in two days. Contador won the Tour in 2007 and 2009, and was stripped of his 2010 title for failing a drugs test.
Today’s 161.5 kilometer (100 mile) stage from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles was won by Vincenzo Nibali, the Italian national champion riding for Astana Pro Team. He regained the yellow jersey of the race leader after losing it yesterday.
Contador injured his knee in a crash on the descent of Petit Ballon, the first of four climbs on today’s 10th stage with the most difficult rating, his team said in a statement on its website. Falling more than four minutes behind the main group after the crash, he resumed racing on a new bike for about 20 kilometers before the injury forced him to abandon the race.
“Today’s race was unfolding exactly as we wanted,” Tinkoff-Saxo’s Sporting Director Philippe Mauduit told the website letour.fr. “In a fraction of a second, it all fell apart, so we’re immensely sad.”
This year’s race, which started in Leeds, England, on July 5, has seen days of rain since it moved to France. Tomorrow is the first of two rest days.