Cycling Article

Egan Bernal Withdraws from Tour de France

Egan Bernal Withdraws from Tour de France Photo: TT
Egan Bernal Withdraws from Tour de France

The defending champion Egan Bernal has dropped out of this years Tour de France, ahead of arguably the toughest stage in the Alps.

The 23-year-old from Columbia became the youngest winner of the Tour last year in its 110-year history, and he was hotly tipped to repeat that feat this year.

Now the decision by his team, Ineos-Grenadier to focus solely on him has led to some awkward questions for Team principal Sir Dave Brailsford. Four-time winner Chris Froome and the 2018 winner Gareth Thomas are both contracted to the team, but neither is riding in this years event, after being effectively dropped in favour of Bernal.

The Columbians chances of defending his title effectively ended on the weekend,, when he cracked during one of the mountain stages, and things got worse on Tuesday, as he lost touch with the main peloton as they climbed Saint-Nize. He eventually finished seven minutes behind the pack, complaining of back pains, and also discomfort in his knees.

After consulting with doctors, it was then decided that he should retire in his own best long-term interests.

Last month Bernal pulled out of Criterium de Dauphine warm-up race with back pains as well.

It means that, for now at least, the recent dominance of the Ineos-Grenadier team of the Tour is over. They have won the iconic race seven times out of the last eight years, the only exception being in 2014 when it was claimed by the Italian Vincenzo Nibali riding for the Astana team.

Instead this year, the winner is likely to come from Slovenia, with Primoz Primoz Roglic, who rides for Jumbo-Visma, ahead of compatriot Tadej Pogacar of UAE Team Emirates. Another Columbian Rigoberto Uran of EF Pro Cycling is third.

The tour concludes on Sunday on Paris in traditional style on the Champs-lyses, although, this year, the usual thronged crowds will not be there to see it because of the health and safety protocols introduced because of the coronavirus.

Suneer chowdhary
Sports Pundit staff writer @suneerchowdhary
ICC-accredited cricket journalist, covers Team India through their cricketing journey around the world

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