It was a thunderclap that fell on the Tour this Wednesday morning: Egan Bernal, the leader of the Ineos-Grenadiers and winner of the Tour de France 2019, gave up. The Colombian did not take the start of the 17th stage, the main event of this 2020 edition towards the Col de la Loze: “This is obviously not how I wanted my Tour de France to end. But I recognize that it is the right decision for me in these circumstances ”declared the first Colombian rider to win the Tour, quoted by his team in the press release. Bernal has been suffering from back pain for several days. This renunciation confirms that 2020 is not his year: he had already given up in August in the Dauphiné race.
His abandonment is a semi-surprise so much, for a few days, the young (23 years) South American was in perdition. On Sunday, in the ascent of the Grand Colombier, he had already lost all his chances of succeeding himself by letting slip several minutes on the Slovenian duo Roglic – Pogacar. “We think it’s wiser for him to stop. We made this decision with Egan’s best interests at heart. He is a true champion who loves to run, but he is also a young rider, with many laps ahead of him, ”said the boss of the British team, Dave Brailsford.
Tuesday, in the stage leading to Villard-de-Lans, Bernal gave up completely, both physically and mentally, finding himself at the finish in a Gruppetto little worthy of his status. Since the start of the season, national hero Bernal in Colombia has never shown very encouraging signs.
His team, Ineos, announced in a tweet this wednesday morning, shortly after 8 o’clock, that Bernal gave up pursuing his ordeal. He should skip the World Cup in Imola in Italy in ten days. If his form has returned, he could take the start of the Spanish Vuelta (October 20 to November 8).
The Colombian had approached the Tour with the status of unique leader in his team, deprived of his two other big names, the British Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, two former winners whose performances at the Dauphiné, in mid-August, did not not found to be convincing.
In 2018, for his debut, the Colombian devoted himself to the cause of his leaders and took 15th place. Before winning the following year, by taking power at the top of Iseran, in the truncated stage of Tignes (Savoie), two days from the conclusion in Paris.
His abandonment will in any case force his team, hitherto overpowered, to review its strategy for the future.
This is not the first time this season that Bernal has left a race on the sly: he had already given up in August to take the start of the 4th stage of the Dauphiné.
5. In 50 years, this is only the 5th time that an outgoing winner has abandoned the race. Before the Colombian, Bernard Thévenet (1976 and 1978), Bernard Hinault (1980), Chris Froome (2014) had known the same fate.