MADRID (Reuters) - Alberto Contador snatched the leader’s red jersey from Nairo Quintana at the Tour of Spain on Tuesday after the Colombian suffered a spectacular high-speed crash in the 10th-stage time trial.
Tinkoff-Saxo rider Contador, a surprise entrant at his home race after he fractured a shin bone at the Tour de France in July, was trailing Quintana by three seconds in second place going into the 36.7km time trial near Zaragoza.
However, Quintana lost control on a corner and clipped a crash barrier before somersaulting off his machine. He picked himself up and continued to the finish but dropped to 11th in the standings, nearly 3-1/2 minutes off the pace.
Alejandro Valverde, of Spain, Quintana’s Movistar team mate, moved up to second overall, 27 seconds behind Contador, and another Colombian, Rigoberto Uran of Omega Pharma-Quick-Step, is third, 59 seconds adrift.
“The truth is that nobody could have imagined that today I would be wearing red, it’s a big surprise,” Contador, who is seeking a third Tour of Spain victory after triumphs in 2008 and 2012, told reporters.
“It’s a reason to be pleased but there is still more than half the Tour to go,” the double Tour de France champion added. “Now I am in the red jersey and thinking about trying to win.”
Quintana said his priority after the crash, in which he suffered only minor injuries, would be to support Valverde and try to make the podium.
“Before the corner I was tightening a shoe, which was a bit loose, but I don’t think that had anything to do with the fall,” he said.
“Above all it’s my left ankle that is bothering me and I took some blows in various places but I am confident it’s nothing serious.”
Britain’s Chris Froome, one of the pre-race favorites who is also returning from injury, is fifth overall, one minute and 18 seconds behind Contador. The Team Sky rider was 10th-quickest in Tuesday’s time trial.
Germany’s Tony Martin, a time-trial specialist who also rides for Omega Pharma-Quick-Step, won Tuesday’s stage ahead of Uran, with Trek Factory Racing’s Fabio Cancellara, of Switzerland, third and Contador in fourth.
The three-week Tour of Spain concludes on Sept. 14 with stage 21, a time trial in the north-western city of Santiago de Compostela.
Writing by Iain Rogers, editing by Neville Dalton