Levi Leipheimer is out of the Tour de France after crashing on stage 12 to Vittel and breaking his wrist.

The American hit the deck 2.5km from the finish on a fast left hand corner where Cadel Evans also crashed. Leipheimer picked himself up and finished the stage without a problem, but, according to Astana’s press officer, the pain had increased this morning and so he was taken to hospital where they confirmed the break.

Stage 12 should have been a formality for the Tour’s favourites as the peloton rolled along, not bothering to chase to the break away group that contested the finish.

Neither was the corner that Leipheimer crashed on particularly tough. The peloton swept round it at full speed as they were building up for the sprint but it was only later when the cameras showed Evans riding gingerly up to the finish line that it became apparent a crash had happened.

Replays of the corner then showed an Astana rider picking himself up out of the grass verge and climbing back on his bike.

Leipheimer was one of Lance Armstrong’s key lieutenants in the Astana team. He finished second to Alberto Contador in the 2007 Tour and was third in line for the role of leader this year behind Contador and Armstrong.

At the end of yesterday’s stage Leipheimer was comfortably sat in fourth place, 39 seconds down on Rinaldo Nocentini. His abandonment moves Bradley Wiggins up to fourth overall as the race heads towards the Alps.

Leipheimer said on his Twitter feed; “My wrist is broken. I can’t describe how disappointed I am.”

More later….