Defending champion Egan Bernal pulls back from Tour de France

Defending Tour de France champion Egan Bernal has pulled out of the race in front of a mammoth stage in the Alps, his Ineos Grenadiers group said Wednesday.

Bernal had been battling since a weekend ago’s phase in the Jura mountains, where he dropped over seven minutes on the fundamental competitors and sneaked out of conflict. Hampered by back torment, the 23-year-old rider lost additional time during Tuesday’s first Alpine stage.

Bernal was in sixteenth spot generally, 19 minutes and fours seconds behind race pioneer 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 in the circumstances,” Bernal said. “I have the greatest respect for this race and I’m already looking forward to coming back in the years ahead.”

A year ago, Bernal turned into the first Colombian to win the Tour, and the most youthful champion of the post-World War II time. His group said Bernal will attempt to recoup as fast as could be expected under the circumstances and rethink his goals for the remainder of the period.

“We have taken this decision with Egans’ best interests at heart,” Ineos manager Dave Brailsford said. “Egan is a true champion who loves to race, but he is also a young rider, with many Tours ahead of him.”

Bernal’s withdrawal denoted the finish of Ineos’ predominance at cycling’s greatest occasion. The effective period began in 2012 with Bradley Wiggins’ triumph, when the group was called Team Sky. The squad won seven of the last eight editions with four unique riders, however its best-placed rider this year is Richard Carapaz, who stood fourteenth in front of Wednesday’s Stage 17.

Apparently the hardest, the journey includes the Col de La Madeleine and the Col de La Loze, the Tour’s highest point this year at 2,304 meters. The sans traffic pass between the ski resorts of Meribel and Courchevel was opened to cyclists this year after a woods track was cleared by nearby specialists. The last six kilometers of the ascension are especially troublesome, with extremely steep sections and sharp turns.

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