ALBERTO CONTADOR faces surgery after suffering a broken leg as he crashed out of the Tour de France yesterday 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 team car.
Contador sustained a fractured tibia (shin bone), Tinkoff-Saxo team manager Bjarne Riis revealed: "It's not a complicated fracture but it probably requires surgery. He will stay with us tonight and tomorrow he will travel back to Madrid to undergo further examinations and a surgery if necessary.
"Alberto was in the shape of his life and the entire team had our eyes fixed on the podium in Paris and the work we would have to do to get there."
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.
Nibali, who relinquished the lead on stage nine to Frenchman Tony Gallopin, surged to a second Tour stage win to take control of the race. Nibali holds a lead of 2:23 from Richie Porte (Team Sky), who was 25 seconds behind in seventh on the day. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is third, 2:47 behind.
Ireland's Nicolas Roche finished 106th on the stage, 28:40 behind Nibali, having dropped back to help his team leader Contador. The knock-on effect is that Roche lies 51st overall, 46:56 off the yellow jersey in the GC.