Egan Bernal abandons Dauphiné with back issues

Tour de France champion pulls out before stage 4 as precautionary measure.

Tour de France champion Egan Bernal (Ineos) has abandoned the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Team Ineos is yet to release a full statement on the Colombian’s retirement, though Bernal’s teammate Geraint Thomas broke the news to reporters Saturday morning.

“He’s not at the start today. He has a bit of a bad back so the best thing for him to do is take it easy. It’s such a short turnaround to the Tour [ed. – August 29] it’s important to just get it 100 percent right,” Thomas said at the startline in Ugine.

“I don’t think it’s a major issue, it’s just better to err on the side of caution,” he continued. “Egan’s done two races before this so he’s got the racing he needs –it’s just about making sure everything is 100% there, and that there’s no issues.”

Bernal had been off the pace in the sprint for second in the final of stage 3 Friday, placing 14th, 12 seconds behind Primož Roglič, who took second-place behind stage winner Davide Formolo.

Pavel Sivakov had indicated his Colombian team leader was struggling when speaking after the stage Friday.

“Egan had a bit of a hard day in the end but it’s not a problem. He’s here and he’s done two hard races,” Sivakov said. “Egan told me that he was not feeling super today. So I stayed with him and tried to bring him to the final.”

“We did a big block of training,” Sivakov continued. “Now it’s the racing and you need to top up the shape at these races. Especially for Egan, coming from altitude, he did a really big block there. It’s still a long way to the Tour, especially to the third week. We’ve got time, we don’t need to stress or worry.”