Contador Takes Vuelta Top Spot as Leader Quintana Crashes

Nairo Quintana crashed in a time trial at Spain’s Vuelta a Espana cycling race, losing the lead to Alberto Contador.

Quintana misjudged a turn and somersaulted over his handlebars onto the road during the 10th of 21 stages, a 22.8-mile (37-kilometer) ride to Borja in northeast Spain. Tony Martin of Germany won the stage.

Colombia’s Quintana, who had started the day with a three-second lead, got back on his bike and finished the stage. He dropped to 11th in the overall standings, 3 minutes, 25 seconds behind Contador.

Contador, who rides for the Tinkoff-Saxo team, was fourth in the stage today and moved into a 27-second lead over Alejandro Valverde. Contador made a late decision to race in the Vuelta after recovering from breaking his leg at the Tour de France in July.

“It’s a big surprise” to be in the lead, Contador told Television Espanola.

Chris Froome, the 2013 Tour de France champion, was 53 seconds slower than the Spaniard today. He’s fifth overall, 1 minute, 18 seconds off the lead.

La Vuelta a Espana is the biggest three-week stage race in cycling after the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia. It ends in Santiago de Compostela on Sept. 14.

Contador won the event in 2008 and 2012, and won the Tour de France in 2007 and 2009. Contador was suspended and stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title after he tested positive for muscle-building stimulant clenbuterol on the way to winning that race. He also lost his 2011 Giro d’Italia title.

Veterinarians in Spain rejected Contador’s defense that the presence of the drug came from eating contaminated beef.

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