Contador throws in the towel, Froome says sorry

PARIS • Two-time winner Alberto Contador sensationally quit cycling's Tour de France yesterday, after injuries and illness left him trailing in 20th position overall.

The Spaniard, 33, gave up 100 kilometres from the end of yesterday's ninth stage - which was won by Dutchman Tom Dumoulin of Giant-Alpecin - having struggled with injury since an opening-day crash.

His Tinkoff team tweeted he also had a fever. Contador went into the stage more than three minutes behind overall leader Chris Froome.

Meanwhile, the Briton has apologised for lashing out at a spectator on the way to securing a dramatic victory in the eighth stage.

Tweeting in Spanish, he said: "Apologies to the fan I pushed today - I was worried about how close you were, and the danger for you if you fell."

The bizarre incident happened before the Briton launched the stunning downhill attack that secured his win on Saturday.

The man, wearing a Colombia national football shirt, came too close to Froome, who responded by jabbing him in the face.

"I have absolutely nothing against the Colombian fans. I think they're fantastic," he said.

"But this guy in particular was running right next to my handlebars. He had a flag that was flying out behind him and it was just getting dangerous so I pushed him away."

The spectator was supporting his main rival, the two-time Tour runner-up Colombian Nairo Quintana.

"It's fantastic having so many fans out on the road but please, don't try and run with the riders," Froome said.

Tour spokesman Fabrice Tiano said the race jury decided to fine Froome 200 Swiss francs (S$273) for "inappropriate behaviour".

Brian Cookson, the president of the International Cycling Union, warned that the sport risks "something tragic" if fans do not behave.

He told The Sunday Telegraph: "It is a privilege to be able to get up close to the race and to the event. But people have a responsibility to respect that as well.

"The beauty of our sport is its accessibility; we need to be careful we don't lose that."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2016, with the headline 'Contador throws in the towel, Froome says sorry'. Print Edition | Subscribe