Tour de France contenders Saxo Bank suffered a blow Tuesday when road captain Kurt-Asle Arvesen was forced out of the race after suffering a broken collarbone in a heavy crash during the 10th stage.
The 34-year-old Norwegian champion, who won the 11th stage on last year's Tour, fell after 87km trying to avoid a spectator who had fallen into the road.
Saxo Bank spokesman Bryan Nygaard confirmed to AFP: "He's out of the race. We've just returned from hospital where scans confirmed the suspected fracture. It's fractured in two places."
Arvesen rode on and was in obvious pain as the race's official doctors tried to ascertain exactly how serious his injury was.
The loss of Arvesen is a big blow to Saxo Bank, who were called CSC last year when the Norwegian played his role in helping former team leader Carlos Sastre win the race.
This year Arvesen came to the Tour as the newly-crowned Norwegian champion and primed to peak for the crucial third week of the race which features key climbing stages and an individual time trial.
Nygaard added: "It's a big blow to team Saxo Bank. He was our team captain and was the man to organsie tactics. He came here peaking perfectly so obviously he's gutted. It was his big objective of the season."
Andy Schleck, whom Saxo Bank are hoping to lead towards the yellow jersey next week, said: He is one of the most important riders in the team, he was one of the captains who took important decisions.
"Now we are without him, there is not much else you can say. Crashes happen and sometimes you break things, he was unlucky today."
His older brother Frank Schleck said: "It's a big hit for us to lose Kurt. It's going to hurt us for the race, not just losing a friend after ten days, that is a real bummer."
With Tour organisers having banned radio communication between riders and team managers both for today's race and Friday's stage, teammate Jens Voigt said the lack of information played only a minor role in the drama.
"A motorbike hit a spectator who fell into the road, another rider went across his (Arvesen's) wheel and he crashed," Voigt said. "It was one of those things you can't foresee - the chaos was there. The only bad thing was that it took us ten minutes to find out he had crashed and that was by someone in another team.
"With a radio we would have known that straight away, what happened, if he's good, if he's bad and whether he will come back into the peloton," he added. "We all gathered together, we kept the Schleck brothers and Fabian in the front and dropped back to get any information on him."
Garmin's Farrar close, but still no cigar on Stage 10
American Tyler Farrar was gracious in defeat after being outsprinted again by Britain's Mark Cavendish on the Tour de France 10th stage Tuesday.
And the American said the technical finish was trickier than he thought after Cavendish again proved too strong for Norwegian rival Thor Hushovd.
Farrar, who appeared to slow down at one of the turns leading to the finish, told AFP: "I did hesitate a little bit in one of the turns. We can't see the finish before. I looked in the (road) book but the corners were all a little more technical than I thought they would be.
"Apart from that everything went really good. The fastest guy won today, and I came third," added Farrar, who like Cavendish had a special word of praise for his New Zealand lead-out man Julian Dean.
"The team were perfect. It was a very technical last kilometre, but you saw the team taking care of me and Julian (Dean) is amazing right now. He's really going fast. Everything's going perfect."
Hushovd finished second to claim 30 points which allowed him to keep the points competition's green jersey with a total of 147, a six-point cushion over Cavendish who has 141.
Farrar is fifth on 80 points.
Cavendish's lead-out man Mark Renshaw revealed they had made sure of making no mistakes in the finale, by sending one of their team members up to scout and send back a report via telephone.
"We had some guys sitting at the finish for us so we knew we could take most corners full gas, besides one or two," said Renshaw.
Armstrong: 'slowest Tour stage ever'
Seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong said Tuesday's radio-silenced stage was the slowest he could remember after more than a decade of the competition.
Astana's Johan Bruyneel has words with Levi Leipheimer Tuesday
The 37-year-old breezed past waiting reporters after Britain's Mark Cavendish won his third stage of this year's Tour when he claimed the 10th stage and his seventh in three participations.
Italian cyclist Rinaldo Nocentini retained the overall leader's yellow jersey, but third-placed Armstrong, who is eight seconds behind the leader, said it had been the slowest day's racing he could remember.
"Stage 10 done, probably one of the more relaxed days I have experienced in ten plus Tours," said cancer-survivor Armstrong, who is back after his four-year hiatus, on his Twitter page.
"Things got rolling at the end and we (his Astana team) were going. My legs feel good."
This was the first stage in years to be held entirely without radio communication, as will Friday's 13th stage from Vittel to Colmar, after Tour organisers insisted on a radio ban between riders and their team managers.
A protest petition, signed by 14 of the Tour's 20 teams, was submitted to the race organisers last Saturday, but the race went ahead without the use of radios.
Astana team manager Johan Bruyneel, who has been an outspoken opponent of the radio ban, said the organisers had failed in their bid to bring exciting racing to the stage.
"The reason behind having no radios was to have more attractive racing and that's obviously not what happened," said the Belgian. "If that is what they wanted to accomplish, it has been a failure and I just think it is a bad idea to go back 20 years and do something like this stupidly in the biggest race of the year.
"Especially losing a tool we use everyday of the year."
Bruyneel said the day's slow riding by the peloton had been an informal silent protest against the radio ban.
"I think everyone was kind of on the same level, initially there were 14 teams, then maybe some more who didn't want to manifest their position," Bruyneel added. "When we were put in a position where there was enforcement of this rule, it was still up to the riders to decide what is going on in the race.
"So I think the banning of the radios has accomplished the direct opposite of what they wanted to achieve."
© 2009 AFP & BikeRadar
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