Van den Broeck withdraws from Tour

Belgian rider Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto), tipped as a candidate to finish on the Tour de France podium, was forced to withdraw from the race before Thursday's sixth stage.

Belgian Jurgen Van Den Broeck (left) of Lotto - Belisol rides at the race track in Zolder on May 4, 2013. Van den Broeck (Lotto), tipped as a candidate to finish on the Tour de France podium, was forced to withdraw from the race before the sixth stage.

His team confirmed that Van den Broeck would not take part in the sixth stage from Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier after suffering a knee injury when falling in a crash in the final kilometre of Wednesday's ride into Marseille.

Van den Broeck, 30, has twice finished fourth on the Tour, in 2010 and 2012.

However, the Belgian was also forced to pull out of the 2011 Tour following a fall.

Lotto team manager Marc Sergeant admitted: "It's the second time in three years this has happened. It's a lot for us."

However the Belgian admitted the team had little choice but to pull Van den Broeck out given the state of his knee.

"When we arrived back at the hotel (on Wednesday) his knee was swollen enormously, so we already feared he would be unable to start today," Sergeant added.

"He tried to do a few minutes on the rollers (stationary bike) and he could hardly make one turn with his legs."

Van den Broeck's withdrawal follows that of Frenchman Maxime Bouet (AG2R), who fractured a forearm in the same crash on Wednesday.

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Writer: AFP
Position: News agency