After a positive start to the season, which included second place overall at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and an impressive stage win on the summit finish to stage two of the Volta ao Algarve, things took a turn for the worse for Astana’s Luis Leon Sanchez in Friday’s time trial.

The Spaniard was leading on GC going into stage three of the Portuguese race, and was looking to fend off the likes of Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) and Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) from taking his position on the fast 18km time trial course in Sagres.

And while he was down on both of them through the intermediate time split, his chances were completely destroyed as he suffered a nasty crash towards the end of the course.

The 32-year-old Sanchez, who has been a pro since 2004, suffered a serious cut to his chin and loss of blood which meant he was unable to finish the race and was withdrawn by his team.

“Today was an unlucky day for the Astana Pro Team here at the Volta ao Algarve” said Astana Sport Director, Alexandr Shefer.

“It was a windy day and the race route was quite open on the uphill just up to the sea when we arrived to the roundabout close to the lighthouse a gust of wind while Sanchez was turning on an irregular path caused his falling down.”

“Unfortunately he collided with the chin on th ground cutting himself and losing some blood. For this reason he was forced to abandon the race.”

The Volta ao Algarve continues on Saturday with its fourth stage, with Martin riding in the overall lead ahead of Thomas in second after they finished second and third respectively behind Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) in the TT.