ANDY SCHLECK. winner of the 2010 Tour de France, has been forced to pull out of this year's event after being injured in last week's Critérium du Dauphiné race.
The 27-year-old RadioShack rider suffered a broken sacral bone, in his lower back, in a fall during the time trial at Bourg-en-Bresse last Thursday.
He has not missed a Tour since first taking part in 2008 and has been runner-up three times - in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
The Luxembourg rider was awarded the win in the 2010 event after Spaniard Alberto Contador was thrown out for using banned drugs and received the Yellow Jersey as Tour winner at the start of the Dauphiné race.
His pull-out from the July Tour completes a dismal year for Schleck who has face health problems and already abandoned in the Paris-Nice and Tour de Catalogne. He had felt so short of race fitness that he even tried to race on for two days after the Dauphiné crash only to pull out because of the pain.
It now leaves the RadioShack team with a headache as it has been built round the performance of Andy and his younger brother, Frank.
Andy, the victor in the climb up the towering Col du Galibier last year, and Contador were the two premier climbers in the Tour de France and this year's race will be vastly different with their loss.