GRENOBLE, France — Defending Tour de France champion Egan Bernal has pulled out of the race forward of a mammoth stage within the Alps, his Ineos Grenadiers workforce stated Wednesday.
Bernal had been struggling since final weekend’s stage within the Jura mountains, the place he dropped greater than seven minutes on the principle contenders and slipped out of rivalry. Hampered by again ache, the 23-year-old rider misplaced extra time throughout Tuesday’s first Alpine stage.
Bernal was in 16th place general, 19 minutes and fours seconds behind race chief Primoz Roglic.
“That is clearly not how I needed my Tour de France to finish, however I agree that it’s the proper determination for me within the circumstances,” Bernal stated. “I’ve the best respect for this race and I am already trying ahead to coming again within the years forward.”
Final yr, Bernal grew to become the primary Colombian to win the Tour, and the youngest champion of the post-World Struggle II period. His workforce stated Bernal will attempt to recuperate as rapidly as doable and redefine his objectives for the remainder of the season.
“We’ve taken this determination with Egans’ finest pursuits at coronary heart,” Ineos supervisor Dave Brailsford stated. “Egan is a real champion who likes to race, however he’s additionally a younger rider, with many Excursions forward of him.”
Bernal’s withdrawal marked the tip of Ineos’ dominance at biking’s greatest occasion. The profitable interval began in 2012 with Bradley Wiggins’ victory, when the workforce was known as Workforce Sky. The squad gained seven of the final eight editions with 4 totally different riders, however its best-placed rider this yr is Richard Carapaz, who stood 14th forward of Wednesday’s Stage 17.
Arguably the hardest, the trek options the Col de La Madeleine and the Col de La Loze, the Tour’s highest level this yr at 2,304 meters. The traffic-free go between the ski resorts of Meribel and Courchevel was opened to cyclists this yr after a forest observe was paved by native authorities. The final six kilometers of the climb are notably tough, with very steep sections and sharp turns.