Spain’s Alejandro Valverde crashed out of the Tour de France 15kms from the end of stage three on Tuesday after breaking his collarbone in a fall.

The Caisse d’Epargne rider went down hard on his right shoulder after tangling with other riders on a straight section of road.

The other riders involved in the incident were unhurt and rejoined the race, but the ProTour leader was left on the floor clutching his shoulder. Tour doctor Gerard Porte diagnosed a broken collarbone and Valverde was taken to hospital.

After the forced withdrawal of Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso due to the doping investigation in Spain, Valverde was one of the favourites for overall victory but – just like last year when he pulled out with tendinitis on stage 13 – his Tour is over before it had really began.