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Froome eyes Vuelta as Contador licks wounds

ARRAS, France -- Chris Froome will now target the Vuelta a Espana after crashing out of the Tour de France, his team manager Dave Brailsford said.

Froome's defense of the title he won in Paris a year ago ended painfully on Wednesday when he crashed out of the fifth stage.

It was always likely to be a complicated stage as there were seven cobbled sections totaling 13 kilometers to negotiate but Froome hit the deck twice before even reaching those.

Visibly in pain, he climbed into his team car after the second fall and his Tour was over.

“It's just unfortunate for Chris, he's worked ever so hard to be in good shape and really believed he could win this race,” said Brailsford.

“But I think he'll be back and that's part of this sport. You get knocked down, you get back and you go again.

“We will, I'm sure, see him in the Vuelta and go from there.”

The Vuelta, in which Froome was second in 2011 and fourth in 2012, begins on August 23 in Jerez de la Frontera.

In Froome's absence, Vincenzo Nibali had a stunning ride on the cobbles to finish third on the stage and increase his overall lead ahead of everyone except teammate Jakob Fuglsang.

The Dane is second at just 2 seconds after guiding Nibali over the cobbles and to the finish behind stage winner Lars Boom.

Nibali's primary rival for the Tour title, Alberto Contador, lost more than 2min 30sec but the Spaniard said the race for yellow is just beginning.

“It was a really difficult day, you had to be vigilant the whole time,” said the Tinkoff-Saxo rider.

“We lost a lot of time with respect to the top overall classification riders.

“Nibali was in the right place on the second cobbled sector when the race broke apart.

“The important thing was to save the day without falling.

“In the last few kilometers I had to pedal in low gears because of all the mud I'd picked up.

“Now I have to recover and we'll pass into new territory. The Tour is just beginning.”

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Italy's Vincenzo Nibali, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, follows Denmark's Jakob Fuglsang, right, as they ride during the fifth stage of the Tour de France cycling race on Wednesday. (AP)



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