Bernal out of the Tour after another horror day in mountains
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Bernal out of the Tour after another horror day in mountains

Villard de Lans, France: Defending champion Egan Bernal has withdrawn from the Tour de France ahead of stage 17, his Ineos Grenadiers team announced on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old Colombian has been suffering from a back injury sustained in the traditional Tour lead-up, the Criterium du Dauphine, but was hanging on until he cracked badly on Sunday's stage 15 climb to Grand Colombier and lost more than seven minutes to yellow jersey Primoz Roglic (Jumbo–Visma).

He then lost another eight minutes when the Tour resumed for stage 16 after the rest day on Monday after being dropped from the main bunch in the ascent to Saint-Nizier.

"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 statement.

"I have the greatest respect for this race and I am already looking forward to coming back in the years ahead."

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On Tuesday, Lennard Kaemna ( Bora-Hansgrohe) claimed his first Tour de France victory when he outwitted Giro d’Italia champion Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) to win the 16th stage, a 164 kilometre route from La Tour du Pin.

The 24-year-old German took advantage of Ecuadorian Carapaz’s loss of focus at the top of the last climb of the day to go solo and finished 1 minute 27 seconds ahead after charging down in the descent.

Lennard Kaemna crosses the line to take his first Tour de France stage win.

Lennard Kaemna crosses the line to take his first Tour de France stage win.Credit:AP

Swiss Sebastien Reichenbach (Groupama–FDJ) took third place, 1min 56secs off the pace as Roglic retained the overall leader's yellow jersey.

It was a day to forget for Ineos-Grenadiers as Carapaz had to settle for second after two brutal attacks from the breakaway group in the decisive climb had left his rivals in the red.

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But Kaemna, who narrowly missed out on a stage win last week when he lost a two-man sprint against Colombian Daniel Martinez (EF Pro Cycling) on the Puy Mary, went solo just as Carapaz was recovering from his effort at the top.

"I didn't want it to be another two-man sprint so when I saw Carapaz struggling a bit I thought I had to go full gas," said Kaemna, who had also lost a two-man sprint for victory at the 2017 under-23 world championships.

"When I saw that I was gaining a few seconds it boosted my confidence and I knew I was going to win."

All 22 teams were cleared to continue the race on Tuesday after riders and staff members returned negative coronavirus tests.

Tuesday also marked the return on the race of Tour director Christian Prudhomme, who had returned a positive result in the previous round of testing.

Thursday's 17th stage is a brutal mountain trek in the Alps, over 170 kilometres and ending in Meribel at the top of the Col de la Loze, 2304 metres above sea level.

Reuters

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