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Tour of California crash takes out Oscar Freire, Kim Kirchen

February 18, 2009 |  2:57 pm

Tyler Hamilton

CLOVIS, CALIF. -- There was a significant crash during an Amgen Tour of California climb, and two key riders have been knocked out of today's Stage 4.

Three-time world road champion Oscar Freire of Rabobank and Columbia-Highroad's Kim Kirchen, who held the leader's yellow jersey at last year's Tour de France, took a couple of minutes to get up and both needed help to get off of the course.

Kirchen seemed to have a fractured collar bone. Floyd Landis also went down in the big crash but was able to continue.

Riders are now at about 4,000 feet and are racing past snowbanks on the side of the road.

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Tyler Hamilton from team Rock Racing signs autographs in Merced before the start of Stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California. Credit: Andrew Gombert / EPA