Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez pulls out of Tour de France

Defending Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez withdrew from the Tour de France Sunday after a crash in which he sustained injuries that could rule him out of the London Games.

Published: 09th July 2012 12:20 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th July 2012 02:51 PM   |  A+A-

Samuel Sanchez2LL

Defending Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez withdrew from the Tour de France Sunday after a crash in which he sustained injuries that could rule him out of the London Games.

Sanchez was involved in a spectacular crash that occurred 56 kilometers (35-miles) into the eighth stage that took the riders into the Swiss mountains.

Sanchez, who won a Tour stage last year on his way to winning the best climber's polka-dot jersey, fell on his side before two other riders landed on him.

A tearful Sanchez sat on the ground, clutching his left shoulder and arm, as medical teams tended to him. He could not get back on a bike and was put on a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital in Montbeliard in an ambulance.

Tour doctor Florence Pommerie said Sanchez broke his right hand and injured his left shoulder.

"We suspect a dislocated or a broken shoulder," she said. "He also lost consciousness for a couple of seconds, probably because of the pain."

Sanchez underwent x-rays that confirmed he broke his hand but could not reveal the full extent of his shoulder injury. Sanchez will head back to Spain on Monday to undergo a scan, Euskaltel-Euskadi spokesman Jesus Aizkorbe told The Associated Press.

"The most important thing is my health," Sanchez said. "I want to know how serious is my injury in order to start a recovery program as soon as possible. Today I cried on the road because it's hard to leave the Tour so early, before the two time-trials, the Alps and the Pyrenees."

Alejandro Valverde of Spain, one of the two riders who fell on Sanchez, sustained a cut on his shin in the crash, Pommerie said.

Crashes have marred the first week of the Tour and Sanchez became the 20th rider to drop out of the three-week race.

The 157.5-kilometer (98-mile) ride on Sunday from Belfort to the Swiss town of Porrentruy featured seven climbs.

Sanchez was set to defend his Olympic title later this month. The Olympic road race is scheduled for July 28.

Aizkorbe said the extent of his shoulder injury will be crucial in the decision over his participation in the London Games.

"It will be up to the national coach to decide," Aizkorbe said. "We'll speak with him as soon as possible."

Sanchez had started the day in 12th position, 2 minutes and 2 seconds behind Tour leader Bradley Wiggins. He said earlier this week that winning the Olympic road race at the Beijing Games was the pinnacle of his career, and said he is eager to defend it.


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