Two-time champion Contador quits Tour de France

Two-time champion Alberto Contador sensationally quit the Tour de France on Sunday after injuries and illness left him trailing 20th overall going into the ninth stage.

Team Tinkoff also tweeted that Alberto Contador had fever.   -  Getty Images

Two-time champion Alberto Contador sensationally quit the Tour de France on Sunday after succumbing to injuries and illness.

The 33-year-old Spaniard climbed off his bike with just over 100km to ride on Sunday's ninth stage from Spain to Andorra.

Contador was injured down his right side after crashing on both of the opening two stages and his Tinkoff team said he was also suffering from illness on Sunday morning.

"I couldn't continue. This morning I was feverish," said Contador.

"After the crash in the first day, I really didn't feel well and it pushed me to make this decision.

"I must have medical checks to see what's wrong to try and recuperate for the rest of the season."

Four times during the opening 80km of Sunday's stage, Contador was seen dropping back from the peloton to speak to his team car.

It was clear that he was suffering on what was a baking hot day in the Pyrenees with temperatures reaching 41 degrees Celsius.

However, what made it surprising for some people was that Contador had actually attacked, alongside fellow Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, on the opening climb of the day.

"I was quite surprised to hear that Alberto Contador was in his car," said race leader Chris Froome after the finish.

"As he had attacked, he obviously wasn't feeling too bad but I guess he was still suffering from his injuries."

Contador was sitting 20th overall at more than three minutes behind at the start of the day.

He had lost time on several stages as he struggled with his injuries.

Following Saturday's eighth stage he even admitted that he may have to hand over team leadership duties to Czech Roman Kreuziger, who is 12th at just 34sec behind Froome.

Froome said the Tour would be poorer for the Spaniard's absence.

"It's a shame he's no longer in the race. It would have made the Tour even more exciting than it already is.

"It's a big loss for the Tour de France but I have no doubt he'll be able to set other goals for himself this year.

"The change for me is that we won't have to chase his attacks 100 kilometres before the finish. It's something less to worry about but it's a pity."

It was the second time in the last three editions of the Tour that Contador has been forced to quit due to injuries suffered in a crash.

Two years ago he broke his leg in a fall on the 10th stage and although he battled on bravely for a few kilometres, he quit on that same stage.

Having had no abandonments in the first seven days of the Tour, the Pyrenees have taken their toll with five riders now quitting over the last two days, including Australian Mark Renshaw.