GRENOBLE, France – Defending Tour de France champion Egan Bernal has withdrawn from the race ahead of a massive stage in the Alps, his team Ineos Grenadiers said on Wednesday.
Bernal had been struggling since last weekend’s stage in the Jura Mountains, where he lost more than seven minutes to the main contenders and escaped. Embarrassed by back pain, the 23-year-old lost more time on Tuesday’s first alpine stage.
Bernal was in 16th place overall, 19 minutes and four seconds behind race leader Primoz Roglic.
“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,” said Bernal. “I have the utmost respect for this race and I can’t wait to come back in the years to come.