Alberto Contador crashed badly in a criterium near Madrid on Sunday. With bruises all down his left side, the world?s leading stage racer was taken to hospital for a full-scale check-up before being given the all-clear.

The Tour, Giro and Vuelta winner fell during the criterium?s points event, badly bruising his left side, left shoulder and and the left side of his face.

Fortunately the check-up at a nearby hospital showed that the injuries were spectacular but not serious long-term and Contador was back home by the early evening.

Contador?s accident cast a shadow over the criterium, a yearly event held by the Spanish Association of Professional Cyclists. Other top riders taking part in this year?s edition included Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse D?Epargne) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

The star of the race was meant to be Juan Llaneras, the Olympic track star who is retiring at the end of the year. But instead Contador?s crash became the main event of the day.

?It was a pity, because it looked like being a great day out and instead the party ended badly,? Contador?s brother Fran told Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

Contador is due to travel to Tenerife on November 30th for Astana?s first training camp of 2009. During the nine-day camp he will have his first face-to-face meeting with new team member Lance Armstrong.

RELATED LINKS

Armstrong to meet Tour officials before deciding on participation