Reigning champion Egan Bernal has withdrawn from the Tour de France five days short of Paris after injury wrecked his title defence.
The 23-year-old Colombian had remained in contention until Sunday’s stage on the Grand Colombier, when he shipped more than seven minutes on the unforgiving gradients to tumble out of the top 10 in the general classification.
After Monday’s rest day, Bernal suffered again on Tuesday’s stage to Villard-de-Lans, though indicated afterwards he hoped to ride to Paris out of respect for the race.
But on the morning of Wednesday’s queen stage to the Col de la Loze above Meribel, the Ineos Grenadiers announced Bernal was out of the race.
“This is obviously not how I wanted my Tour de France to end, but I agree that it is the right decision for me in the circumstances,” said Bernal. “I have the greatest respect for this race and I am already looking forward to coming back in the years ahead.”
Ineos Grenadiers boss Sir Dave Brailsford said: “We have taken this decision with Egan’s best interests at heart. Egan is a true champion who loves to race, but he is also a young rider, with many Tours ahead of him and at this point, on balance, we feel it is wiser for him to stop racing.”