PLANCHER-LES-MINES, France (AP) 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.
In circumstances that a team spokesman could not immediately explain, Contador crashed about halfway through the 161.5-kilometer (100-mile) trek from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles featuring four steep Category 1 climbs - the toughest stage so far.
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.