Tour de France: Nibali wins 10th stage; Contador quits
Plancher-Les-Mines, France • Italy's Vincenzo Nibali stamped his dominance on the Tour de France by winning Stage 10 in the Vosges mountains on Monday shortly after his biggest rival for the title, two-time champion Alberto Contador, crashed out with a fractured shin after a high-speed spill.
Nibali, the Astana team leader, also regained the overall race lead from France's Tony Gallopin who had taken the leader's yellow jersey off him a day earlier in the 161.5-kilometer (100-mile) trek from the eastern city of Mulhouse to a super-steep uphill finish at La Planche des Belles Filles.
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.
By the end, Nibali crossed 15 seconds ahead of France's Thibault Pinot in second and Spain's Alejandro Valverde in third, a further five seconds behind. The Italian recovers the yellow jersey that he wore for seven days after he won the Tour's second stage in the hills of Yorkshire in northern England.
"My legs felt good. I knew the last three kilometers were the toughest, and that's when I accelerated," said Nibali, sucking his thumb in a tribute to his young daughter as he finished. "I thought Rodriguez would follow but he seemed to have trouble."
With Contador out, Nibali is now the favorite to win his first Tour. He has won the Italian Giro and the Spanish Vuelta cycling's other "Grand Tours" along with the French race. Overall, he leads Richie Porte of Australia by nearly 2 minutes, 23 seconds, and Valverde, who is third, 2:47 back.
A string of crash injuries has meant that the Tour will have a first-time winner this year.
The departure of Contador, a 31-year-old Spaniard with Tinkoff-Saxo Bank, follows that of defending champion Chris Froome of Britain who crashed out in the fifth stage. Before the race began, they were considered the top two favorites. Andy Schleck, the 2010 Tour winner, dropped out before Stage 4 following a crash injury a day earlier, though the Luxembourg rider said before the race that he wasn't in good enough shape to contend this year.
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