Update from Wednesday, July 23
Alberto Contador has confirmed he will miss the Vuelta a Espana as a result of the knee injury that forced him to retire from the 2014 Tour de France.
Contador tweeted on Wednesday:
Two-time champion Alberto Contador has pulled out of this year's Tour de France after sustaining a knee injury Monday, per Sky Sports reporter Gernot Bauer:
The Spaniard crashed during Stage 10 of the race on the Col du Platzerwasel in the French mountains, cutting his knee so severely that he couldn't carry on.
Cycling Weekly noted the severity of the injury:
Though the reasons behind the crash remain unknown, it was enough to write off both his bike and his chances of further Tour glory.
After receiving medical treatment for several minutes, Contador was close to five minutes behind the peloton before he tried to get going again, but it was all in vain, as Le Tour de France revealed:
Contador previously won the Tour in 2007 and 2009. He won in 2010 as well but had the title stripped for doping. He initially received a two-year ban when he tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol, but he returned to competition in six months when the Spanish cycling federation overturned his sanction.
The 31-year-old was visibly emotional after making the decision to withdraw from the race, breaking down in tears before climbing into the Tinkoff-Saxo team car.
Tinkoff-Saxo's Philippe Mauduit explained Contador's retirement, per letour.fr:
Alberto badly crashed. His right knee is seriously injured. The crash has been violent. I have his shoe with me, it's completely destroyed. ... It's obviously too early to establish a diagnostic for Alberto. Once he'll reach the finish, he'll undergo an x-ray examination. Before pulling out, he told us that he was in an awful pain and he couldn't go any further on his bike.
Sitting in a healthy position in the top 10 of the General Classification standings, Contador was ready to mount a charge for yellow jersey No. 3, but cycling can be a cruel sport.
However, with Contador out and reigning champion Chris Froome joining him on the list of absentees, the race is now wide open.
Though the withdraws continue to grab the biggest headlines of this year's Tour, cycling writers Mikkel Conde and Tom Cary believe no positives can be taken from such events:
Nearly at the halfway stage in this year's race, many riders will now fancy their chances of glory with Contador being cruelly ruled out.
Italian Vincenzo Nibali regained the yellow jersey after a win on Stage 10, and he may not be so eager to look over his shoulder without the Spaniard in hot pursuit.