Ineos Grenadiers rider Egan Bernal has ended his Tour de France defence with a withdrawal before stage 17.
The Colombian, 23, lost more than seven minutes to leader Primoz Roglic on Sunday’s Grand Colombier climb.
After Tuesday’s stage 16, Bernal was 16th in the general classification, just over 19 minutes off the lead.
“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 in a statement.
Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz is Ineos’ highest-ranked rider in the GC standings in 14th, 17 minutes and 23 seconds behind Roglic.
Team principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: “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.”
The team has provided seven of the last eight Tour winners, including British trio Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins.
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