Vincenzo Nibali back in yellow as Alberto Contador crashes out
Spanish star forced to retire after breaking his leg in crash on stage 10 of Tour de France
Alberto Contador of Spain sits in a Saxo Tinkoff procycling team car after crashing out of the Tour de France on stage 10 from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles. Photograph: Kim Ludbrook/EPA
Tinkoff-Saxo team rider Alberto Contador of Spain gets medical assistance after he fell and broke his leg. Photograph: Jean-Paul Pelissier
Alberto Contador suffered a broken leg as he crashed out of the Tour de France on Monday as Vincenzo Nibali took full advantage with a scintillating victory at La Planche des Belles Filles which saw him reclaim the yellow jersey.
Two-time winner Contador crashed on the 161.5-kilometre 10th stage from Mulhouse and, after struggling on for 20km in an effort to play catch-up, gave up and withdrew to his Tinkoff-Saxo team car.
Tour organisers confirmed Contador sustained a fractured tibia (shin bone) in a statement on letour.com.
It read: “Alberto Contador suffered a shin bone fracture after his crash 95km from the finish of stage 10 between Mulhouse and La Planche des Belles Filles.”
The Spaniard’s departure deprives the race of another previous winner after 2013 champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) withdrew with fractures to his left wrist and right hand on stage five last Wednesday.
Andy Schleck (Trek Factory Racing), who inherited the 2010 title from Contador following an anti-doping infringement, quit the race with a knee injury last Tuesday, although the Luxembourg rider is a shadow of his former self.
None of the remaining riders have won the event, but Nibali took a significant step in his bid to succeed Froome as champion in Paris on July 27.
The action was expected to ignite on the concluding climb ahead of Tuesday’s rest day and Nibali, who relinquished the lead on stage nine to Frenchman Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol), surged to a second Tour stage win to take control of the race.
Nibali holds a lead of 2:23 from second-placed Richie Porte (Team Sky), who was 25 seconds behind in seventh on the day.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is third, 2:47 behind.
Nibali’s advantage is so commanding that three-time champion Greg LeMond believes it is unlikely the Italian will be beaten.
“Personally I don’t think there’s much of a challenge any more,” LeMond told British Eurosport.
“If he does have a bad day, I think it’s the only time anyone has a chance. I think it’s wishful thinking, but it could happen.”
Nicolas Roche dropped to 51st from 38th on the overall classification after he and his Tinkoff-Saxo team-mates went back to try and help team leader Contador.
Roche came home with his team-mates well down the field and the Irish rider was placed 106th, 28:40 behind Nibali. He is now 46:56 behind the Italian on general classification.