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Vincenzo Nibali out of Tour de France

Vincenzo Nibali, who was considered the biggest threat to Team Sky, had to abandon the race after fracturing his vertebrae in an accident with a fan.

ALPE D’HUEZ, France (AP) -- With fans pressing too close to an elite group of riders at the conclusion of the 21 hairpin bends up to Alpe d’Huez, 2014 Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali crashed into a police motorbike and later withdrew from the race.

The Italian got back up and finished seventh in Thursday’s stage, then was taken to the local hospital for medical tests for a suspected back injury.

“The road became narrower and there were no barriers,” Nibali said. “There were two police motorbikes. When [Chris] Froome accelerated, I followed him, I was feeling good. Then we slowed down and I hit the ground.”

Nibali was diagnosed with a fractured vertebra and the Bahrain-Merida rider later tweeted that he was withdrawing from the Tour.

Nibali finished Thursday’s stage in fourth place, 2:37 back of leader Geraint Thomas, before withdrawing.

Nibali and Froome were the only past Tour winners in this year’s field.

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