Zarrabeitia faints after severing top of finger

Mikel Zarrabeitia of Spain cut off the top of his finger in the spokes of his front wheel during Tuesday's 11th stage.

Mikel Zarrabeitia of Spain cut off the top of his finger in the spokes of his front wheel during Tuesday's 11th stage.

Zarrabeitia, seventh overall at the start of the stage, was trying to repair his distance counter during the descent from Alt de la Rabassa when the accident happened. The 30-year-old, runner-up in the Tour of Spain in 1994 to the Swiss rider Tony Rominger, fainted and was taken to a specialist accident centre in Zaragoza. Doctors said the injury would not affect his future as a professional rider.

Thirteen retired during the gruelling 85-mile mountain stage from Alp to Andorra, bringing the total of riders who have abandoned the race to 35.

One of the leading casualties on Tuesday was the Netherlands sprint specialist Jans Koerts, who had won the third stage that finished in Valdepenas and came in behind the world road race champion Oscar Freire in the second stage to Cordoba.

A magnificent performance by Kelme in the mountains has made it clear they are the team to beat, and their team leader, Roberto Heras, remains favourite to win the event, which had a rest day yesterday.

"I have to take advantage of the mountains as they are my territory," said Heras. "I have seen that I am a little bit stronger than my rivals and above all that I have the best team to support me."

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