Defending champion Bernal withdraws from Tour de France

Paris (AFP) –


Last year's winner Egan Bernal has withdrawn from the Tour de France, his Ineos team said on Wednesday, after the young Colombian fell out of contention and complained of back trouble.

The Colombian, 23, saw his title defence effectively extinguished on Sunday, the first major mountain stage, when he slipped to more than eight minutes off the pace.

"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 in a team statement.

Jumbo rider Primoz Roglic leads the race from fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogacar ahead of Wednesday's Stage 17.

"We have taken this decision with Egan's best interests at heart," said Ineos team principal Dave Brailsford.

"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."