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Crash spells end of race for Valverde

VALKENBURG, Netherlands -- Alejandro Valverde, the Spaniard whom Lance Armstrong once said could be cycling's next big thing, fractured his right collarbone during an accident-strewn third stage of the Tour de France yesterday, taking another favorite out of the race that lost its top contenders to a doping scandal even before it began.

There was a new overall leader, Tom Boonen, who donned the Tour's yellow jersey over the rainbow-striped world champion's shirt he already owns. Matthias Kessler of Germany won the hilly stage that covered three countries -- Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Boonen will wear yellow in his native Belgium on today's fourth stage, ``something that happens maybe only once every 10 years, so I think it will be special," he said.

He holds a 1-second lead over Australian Michael Rogers. American George Hincapie is third, with Thor Hushovd of Norway slipping to fourth after struggling on the final hill of the 134.5-mile route from Esch-sur-Alzette.

American Freddy Rodriguez injured his right shoulder and wrist and sustained a concussion after hitting a pothole. Dutch rider Erik Dekker apparently hit the same hole, catapulting him over his handlebars. He broke teeth, ripped his upper lip, had multiple deep cuts on his face, and sustained a concussion.

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