Reuters - Fri, 21 May 06:55:00 2010
Seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong crashed out of the Tour of California on Thursday shortly after he dismissed a former team mate's claim that he used performance-enhancing drugs.
Armstrong withdrew from the event after a crash left the American bloodied and sent to hospital for precautionary X-rays during a fifth stage that saw Australian Michael Rogers grab the overall lead.
Rogers became the fourth new leader in five days with his second-place finish to Slovakia's Peter Sagan in the 195.5-km stage from Visalia to Bakersfield.
Prior to the stage, Armstrong denied accusations by Floyd Landis that he used performance-enhancing drugs.
Landis, stripped of his 2006 Tour de France victory after failing a doping test, ended years of denial on Wednesday when he confessed to using drugs from 2002 when he joined the U.S. Postal team and was a team mate of Armstrong.
Armstrong crashed with several other riders in the opening kilometers of Thursday's fifth stage. He Needed eight stitches below his left eye and X-rays on his elbow were negative.
"It was a shame to have to abandon early and not be able to help Levi (Leipheimer) to another victory," said Armstrong, who kept riding but later quit because of the injuries.
Rogers, a three-time World Time Trial champion, began the day trailing American Dave Zabriskie for the overall lead, but with the help of a time bonus he won a tiebreaker for outright lead because of better accumulative stage finishes.
"Obviously, I woke up this morning and heard the news like everyone else did," said Rogers of Landis's revelations. "I came here to win this race and that's what I concentrated on. During the race I didn't think of anything else but."
American Levi Leipheimer, winner of the last a three Tour of California races, is third while Sagan is fourth overall.
Giro d’Italia: Friday 1.45pm LIVE on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin 521) & on the Eurosport Player.