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Last Updated: Monday, 14 July, 2003, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Beloki crashes out of Tour
Armstrong had to take evasive action and go cross-country
Joseba Beloki is out of the Tour de France after suffering multiple fractures during a fall on the final descent on stage nine.

Beloki, the runner-up last year, was once more lying in second place, just 40 seconds behind race leader Lance Armstrong.

The Spaniard was part of a group of riders chasing down Alexandre Vinokourov as stage nine reached its climax.

He lost control as he braked hard at speed on a tight bend and crashed hard onto the tarmac.

The ONCE team leader fell on his elbow and also hit his head and suffered a number of cuts.

Armstrong was right behind, and only just managed to avoid the prone Beloki, who was later taken to hospital in an ambulance.

Doctors later said he had broken his right leg near the hip and had also suffered wrist and elbow fractures.

His tyre exploded in front of me
Lance Armstrong
Beloki was transfered by air ambulance on Tuesday to a hospital in Vitoria, Spain, where he will be operated on.

Armstrong was forced off the road during the incident and had to take a short cut across a field, cutting out a hairpin bend.

He then had to jump off his bike to carry it through a ditch before remounting just a few places down the field.

"His tyre exploded in front of me," Armstrong told French television.

"I decided to do a bit of cyclo cross!" he added.

"I was really scared. It was the reflexes of a survivor.

"He was racing the race, and racing aggressively. It's a shame to see a guy who's out there, who's a real threat to the race, going down like that."

One of the motorcycle marshalls on duty during the stage later explained that hot conditions caused the tarmac to soften.

Beloki's sliding rear wheel appeared to stop suddenly when it gripped the tar on the road, contributing to the severity of the fall.





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