Paris, September 16: Reigning champion Egan Bernal has withdrawn from the Tour de France ahead of stage 17 after falling well out of contention.
The Team INEOS rider cracked in Sunday's stage 15 on the Grand Colombier to drop from third to 13th and lost more time on yellow jersey holder Primoz Roglic on Tuesday (September 15).
Bernal, who became the youngest winner of the Tour since World War II when triumphing last year, indicated he intended to see out the final four competitive stages.
However, on the morning of Wednesday's queen stage to Col de la Loze, INEOS announced the Colombian will now save himself for other upcoming races.
Team principal Dave Brailsford said in a statement: "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."
Bernal slipped to 16th in the standings on Tuesday (September 15), just over 19 minutes off the lead, and he feels the decision to abandon the Tour is the right choice.
"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," he said.
"I have the greatest respect for this race and I am already looking forward to coming back in the years ahead."
Tadej Pogacar remains within 40 seconds of leader and compatriot Roglic heading into stage 17, with Rigoberto Uran one minute and 34 seconds behind in third.