ANDORRA ARCALIS (AFP) – Two-time champion Alberto Contador sensationally quit the Tour de France on Sunday after succumbing to injuries and illness.
The 33-year-old Spaniard climbed off his bike with just over 100km to ride on Sunday s ninth stage from Spain to Andorra.
Contador was injured down his right side after crashing on both of the opening two stages and his Tinkoff team said he was also suffering from illness on Sunday morning.
“Alberto had a bit of fever this morning. He told us at the beginning of the race that he wasn t feeling super and it s obvious,” Tinkoff sports director Sean Yates told French television.
Four times during the opening 80km of Sunday s stage, Contador was seen dropping back from the peloton to speak to his team car.
It was clear that he was suffering on what was a baking hot day in the Pyrenees with temperatures reaching 35 degrees Celsius.
He was sitting 20th overall at more than three minutes off race leader Chris Froome at the start of the day.
He had lost time on several stages as he struggled with his injuries.
Following Saturday s eighth stage he even admitted that he may have to hand over team leadership duties to Czech Roman Kreuziger, who is 12th at just 34sec behind Froome.
It was the second time in the last three editions of the Tour that Contador has been forced to quit due to injuries suffered in a crash.
Two years ago he broke his leg in a fall on the 10th stage and although he battled on bravely for a few kilometres, he quit on that same stage.
Having had no abandonments in the first seven days of the Tour, the Pyrenees have taken their toll with five riders now quitting over the last two days, including Australian Mark Renshaw.