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Injured Leipheimer withdraws from race

7/17/2009

VITTEL, France -- Lance Armstrong's teammate Levi Leipheimer withdrew from the Tour de France before Friday's 13th stage after breaking his wrist in a crash, his Astana team said.

Leipheimer fell off his bike about 1.86 miles from the finish line Thursday in a crash involving two-time Tour runner-up Cadel Evans.

The American was fourth overall, 39 seconds behind race leader Rinaldo Nocentini of Italy.

"Woke up to bad news. Levi is out with a broken wrist. Damn...," Armstrong said on his Twitter feed.

Leipheimer and Armstrong have a close relationship within the Astana team, which Armstrong says is riven by "tension" with Alberto Contador of Spain.

"He's a good friend of mine so it makes it even more unfortunate, but that's cycling," Armstrong said of Leipheimer.

The loss of Leipheimer will affect Astana, Armstrong said.

"It's a big impact on the team," Armstrong said. "He's one of the leaders of the team. We're still in solid contention for the race. It can't help but have an effect. Now we have to move on and try to focus on what we have. It's unfortunate."

Armstrong is in third place overall, 8 seconds behind Nocentini, who has not been regarded as a potential Tour winner. Contador, winner of the 2007 race, is in second place, 2 seconds ahead of Texan.