Tour de France shorts: Costa, Bennati out of the race

Tinkoff-Saxo is down one rider as Daniele Bennati was forced to abandon after crashing during stage 11 on Wednesday. The Italian crashed after the intermediate sprint and suffered extensive skin wounds and a large hematoma over his right tibia, according to a team press release. He will return home for further examinations during the week, to rule out a fracture.

“I’m very sad that I have to leave the Tour and my teammates but this is unfortunately the reality. Another rider switched direction suddenly around the feedzone and that brought me down. I immediately got back up and continued and at first the pain was not overwhelming but during the next kilometers my leg swelled up due to the hematoma. In the end, I couldn’t pedal and I had to stop," Bennati said.

Tinkoff-Saxo director Steven de Jongh added, "It’s a real pity that Daniele has to leave due to a irritating crash like that. But let’s hope that the scans don’t reveal any fractures and that he’s able to recover quickly. He’s a very important guy for the team and it’s a pity to lose him, but he was in a lot of pain."

Lingering injury forces Costa to quit

Lampre-Merida's Rui Costa has dropped out of the Tour de France during stage 11 on the Col du Tourmalet. The former world champion said he also struggled through the previous day's stage 10, which was the first day in the Pyrenees. 

"Today is a bad day: I worked a lot to be ready to face the challenge of the Tour de France, I made sacrifices to be in a good condition and now I'm on the withdrawals list.

"I'm so sad my Grande Boucled has already finished and I'd want to apologize with the team, my mates, the sponsors and my fans because I missed the goal I had set myself."

Costa was involved in a crash earlier in the race last week and has been struggling with pain in his leg and back ever since. "From the moment of the crash in which I was involved on the past Monday, I had pain at the left leg and at the back, I could not pedal as I would have wanted and it took some days before my body was ok again.

"The decrease of the level of my condition was made worse by the intensity of the stages and by the hot weather, but I'm aware these are typical characteristics of the Tour de France."

Costa came into the Tour de France in top form having place third overall at the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Pauwels fights for victory, finishes in fourth on stage 11

MTN-Qhubeka's Serge Pauwels fought for the stage win but finished fourth on stage 11 at the Tour de France after riding into a successful eight-man breakaway that included stage winner Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo).

Pauwels was in the day’s decisive move with Majka, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Argon 18), Julien Simon (Cofidis), Steve Morabito and Arnaud Demare (FDJ), and later Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin).

Majka attacked over the Col du Tourmalet and Pauwels chased but never made contact with the Polish rider. Pauwels was caught and passed by Martin and Buchmann on the final climb to Cauterets.

“The goal was to have somebody in the breakaway," Pauwels said. "It was a really hard start and we first had Edvald [Boasson Hagen] there. I chose my moment and that was when the good breakaway went and a new race started. In the break, Majka was the strongest. I tried to fight for the victory but there was one guy stronger. I am really happy with my result though.”

Stomach problems sideline Nerz

Bora-Argon 18’s Dominik Nerz pulled out of stage 11 of the Tour de France on Wednesday due to stomach problems. He was the team’s top placed rider overall, in 21st place.

"Due to my stomach problems I have hardly slept tonight. I'm devastated, I have no energy left and I need to understand somehow what happened. It hurts incredibly to let the team down. They have always stood by me and supported me best possible. Giving up is the worst thing that can happen to a rider – there are no words,” Nerz said in a team press release.

Bora-Argon 18 already lost Andreas Schillinger on stage 4 due to an infection and they almost lost Zakkari Dempster to time cut after he finished 177th in Cauterets.

“Given the situation, we’ll shift completely our tactic. From now on, all riders have a carte blanche to focus completely on stage results. We have seven guys who are absolutely ambitious and they all have the quality to take a step into the spotlight. From this we take our optimism in this difficult moment,” said Team Manager Ralph Denk.

On a more positive note, the team’s German champion Emanuel Buchmann was in the stage 11 breakaway and finished third place.

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