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Cycling: Contador absence changes dynamics, says Porte

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The retirement of Alberto Contador from the Tour de France on Monday has changed the dynamics of the race, according to Australian Richie Porte.

Everyone was expecting the Spaniard to launch an attack on race leader Vincenzo Nibali and start trying to claw back the time he'd lost on last Wednesday's cobbled stage.

But instead he broke his shinbone in a crash on a fast descent and after gamely trying to continue, abandoned around halfway through Monday's gruelling 10th stage from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles.

"It's a shame to lose Alberto like that. I hope he's okay," said Porte, the new Team Sky leader since reigning champion Chris Froome left the Tour last Wednesday after breaking his wrist and hand in crashes.

"It's going to definitely change the dynamics of the race," Porte told ITV4.

"It would have been a harder finale if Tinkoff-Saxo had've been there. We'll take it day by day and I think we're in a pretty good position going into the first rest day."

Porte is second overall at 2min 23sec after finishing seventh on Monday's 161km stage that included seven categorised climbs.

He couldn't match stage winner Nibali's attack on the final climb but gave up only 25sec.

"I was the only one who responded when Nibali went, but I guess that's racing. I felt good today but it's not great to be towing everybody to the line," he said.

"If Vincenzo goes I guess you have to respond. He's got enough time already so I didn't really want him to get any more."

As others stayed in Porte's wheel he was forced to lead the chase but as he closed in on the line, five riders accelerated past.

Yet the 29-year-old Tasmanian's performances over the last couple of days have instilled belief in his teammates.

He was fourth on Saturday's eighth stage, giving up just 4sec to Nibali and 7sec to Contador after the Spaniard's acceleration up the final climb.

"Richie looked strong. He was fighting for the wheel and was motivated," said Welsh teammate Geraint Thomas.

"All we said to him at the bottom was to get stuck in and go as deep as he could and see where he ended up.

"Obviously, being the leader in Team Sky brings with it a certain pressure, but we didn't put any on him within the team and we're happy to ride and get stuck in for him. Whatever will be will be."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140714/cycling-contador-absence-changes-dynamics-says-porte