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Alberto Contador drops out of Tour

7/14/2014

PLANCHER-LES-MINES, France -- Two-time champion Alberto Contador has dropped out of the Tour de France on Monday after crashing during Stage 10 in the Vosges mountains.

The 31-year-old Spaniard with Tinkoff-Saxo Bank becomes the second big favorite to drop out this year after defending champion Chris Froome of Britain crashed out in Stage 5.

Winning the 10th stage was Italy's Vincenzo Nibali, who has stamped his dominance on the Tour. Nibali regained the overall race lead from France's Tony Gallopin, who had taken the leader's yellow jersey from the Italian a day earlier.

With a final burst of speed in the last two kilometers (1.2 miles), Nibali overtook breakaway rider Joaquim Rodriguez. The Spaniard, heaving hard as Nibali overtook him, caught back up briefly but then the Italian accelerated brutally with 700 meters to go.

According to his spokesman, Contador said he wasn't exactly sure what caused the crash -- which happened while he was speeding downhill at over 70 kph (about 40 mph) about halfway through the stage. Contador began the stage in ninth place overall -- 4 minutes, 8 seconds back of Gallopin.

"He explained to me just a few minutes ago that he (hit) a stone or a hole in the road or something -- and he crashed," Contador spokesman Jacinto Vidarte told The Associated Press by phone during the stage. "He couldn't do anything about it."

TV images showed thick streams of blood pouring from Contador's knee after the crash, his hip was scraped up, and the back of his jersey torn. Team director Bjarne Riis rushed over and bandaged the rider's right knee.

Contador then sat back down on grass bank and changed his left shoe as riders, weaved through the narrow gap between him and his bicycle. After several minutes, he got back in the saddle of a new bike, and three teammates who had dropped back escorted him to try to make up lost time as the peloton pulled away up the Col du Platzerwaswel mountain pass.

The Spaniard rode for about another half-hour, clearly in pain, and finally stopped, got off, wiped his eyes and climbed into a team car.

Contador began the stage in 4 minutes, 8 seconds back of race leader Tony Gallopin of France, in ninth place overall. The withdrawal means that the Tour this year will have a champion who has never won before.

With Contador out, Nibali is now the favorite to win his first Tour. He has already won the Italian Giro and the Spanish Vuelta -- cycling's other "Grand Tours" along with the Tour de France. Overall, he leads second-placed Richie Porte of Australia by nearly 2½ minutes, with Valverde, who is third, almost 3 minutes back.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.