(Reuters) – Defending champion Egan Bernal withdrew from the Tour de France ahead of stage 17, his team Ineos Grenadiers announced on Wednesday.
Bernal, whose hopes of winning the race vanished when he broke down on Sunday’s 15th stage, was sidelined from the main peloton in the ascent to Saint-Nizier, suffering from back pain on the 16th stage of Tuesday won by Lennard Kaemna.
Bernal had said that compensating his back caused him discomfort in his knee.
“This is obviously not how I wanted my Tour de France to end, but I agree that it is the right decision for me under the circumstances,” Bernal said in a statement here.
“I have the utmost respect for this race and I can’t wait to come back in the years to come.
The 23-year-old will focus on his recovery from the Tour and reset his goals for the remainder of the season, his team said.
They did not specify the reason for his withdrawal.
“We made this decision with Egan’s best interests at heart,” said Dave Brailsford, Ineos Team Director.
“Egan is a true champion who loves racing, but he’s also a young driver, with many laps ahead of him and at this point overall we think it’s wiser for him to stop. run.
The Colombian retired from Criterium du Dauphine with back pain last month.
Last year Bernal became the youngest rider to win the Tour de France in 110 years.