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Valverde, Dekker both injured in crashes

7/4/2006

VALKENBURG, Netherlands -- Spaniard Alejandro Valverde has pulled out of the Tour de France with a
right collarbone fracture

Also, Dutchman Erik
Dekker's career ended on a sad note on Tuesday when he was forced to pull out of the Tour after a separate
crash.

Valverde crashed some 20 kilometers from the finish in a pile-up in the peloton. He was taken away in an ambulance.

Valverde, 26, was one of the favorites after it was stripped of three of its big
names following a doping investigation.

Valverde won one stage of the Tour de France last year,
beating seven-time winner Lance Armstrong in Courchevel before
pulling out three days later.

Dekker, 36, who had announced the Tour would be his last
race, crashed along with American Fred Rodriguez after hitting
the pavement in the village of Verviers, 59 kms from the finish
of the 216.5-kms third stage from Esch-sur-Alzette to
Valkenburg.

Organizers said both riders had apparently sustained
shoulder injuries and were taken away in an ambulance.

Dekker, who will become Rabobank's sporting director next
season, has won four stages in the Tour de France, including
three in 2000.

In 2001, he claimed the Amstel Gold Race just after the
summit of the Cauberg, where Tuesday's stage ends.

Dekker, who enjoyed the shortest spell as No. 1 rider in the world in March 2002, also won the Paris-Tours classic in 2004.